The closest I ever came to getting in a fight was with a girl named Vickie Carmichael. She wasn’t much bigger than me, but she was tough. Everybody feared her in fifth-grade gym class when we played dodgeball. And she had her eye on me. I’m not sure why. Maybe my prosthetic left arm made me a target. Kids like to pick on kids who are different in some way—kids without stylish clothes, kids who are overweight, kids with disabilities, new kids.
It always happened after school on the way to the bus. I dreaded the walk along the long line of yellow school buses. There was no hiding from Vickie. She spotted me every day. I froze in my tracks when I saw her and braced for the pain. She made a fist, pulled it back behind her head, and full force punched me in my upper right arm. I didn’t cry. I simply took it and then got on the bus. I never told anybody. I just lived in fear of Vickie Carmichael.
For months I contemplated my lot in life, victim of Vickie Carmichael. I knew something had to change. I decided I had to fight back. I devised a plan. I wasn’t convinced it would work, but I was determined to give it a try. On one unsuspecting day, I put my plan into action.
Vickie approached, as usual. My heart pounded. I had to act fast before she did. I took a deep breath and gathered all my courage. Then…I drew back my purse and hit Vickie Carmichael with it as hard as I could! I spun around and ran for my life to the bus. I fully expected to die that day. But surprisingly, she didn’t chase me. In fact, she never hit me again.
Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s facing the enemy in spite of our fear. I realized that day that I could be courageous. I’ve had to be courageous many times in the years since. So if you ever find yourself facing an enemy and needing some courage, call me. I’ll come over with my purse.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)