Rescued by the Bible
This one happened at high school.
Perhaps you will recall freshman year Gym class. It was to be our last year of mandatory Gym class and for me it was one final year to compound all of the embarrassment that can be forced on me by my awkward juvenile body and an audience of my peers. I'm sure we both have embarrassing gym memories. Ripping one during sit-ups while someone held my ankles is one of mine, as well as trying to hide erections during the swimming unit; it's very difficult. Perhaps you won't understand how humiliating it is to stand on the diving board. . . with a diving board. Sometimes I wonder how I didn't go shrieking mad with the horror of every day.
At any rate, I was one of those students who took Spanish, tried out for plays and if I was on a football field, it was in the marching band. I have never been that coordinated and was not all that keen on showering with a bunch of guys. The verdict: I stank at sports, probably still do. We were in the football portion of the gym class. The entire class was split up into teams for co-ed, two-hand-touch football. I remember once this girl caught the ball. I have forgotten the name of the guy that was going to tag her. I remember he was the only freshman with a mustache. He reached, innocently enough, to tag her back with two hands and she spun. One of his hands landed on each breast. She was outraged and tried to start hitting him. His face turned red and he was talking too fast trying to apologize. Whatever his name was, after that we called him Jack the Gripper.
Well there was a certain classmate on my team who was very competitive. He was absolutely disgusted with my inability to play. If I was passed the football, I dropped it. If it got handed to me I would slowly run in the wrong direction. He would come to my locker and cuss me out and threaten to kill me. His face would get red and he would point his finger in my face and say that he was going to kick my f-ing a. He was big enough to do it too. This was when I was thin as an uncooked spaghetti. Every day he would return to my locker and tell me how much I sucked at football and what he was going to do to me if I lost another game for them. I came to expect the fear.
I was pretty discouraged. I was reading the book of Proverbs and I came across this statement:
A soft answer turns away wrath.
Okay God, I thought, it's time to put your Word to the test. If it is true it will work, I thought. So, nervous as I was, I awaited the onslaught with a slight smile. Again he came up to me and roared. I listened patiently and when he was finished I said, "That's nice, would you like a piece of gum?" He stared for a moment. I held up a stick of Freshmint and he took it out of the pack. "You still suck." he said or something like it. The next day we repeated the routine, him swearing, me smiling and finishing with the gum. The next week he was coming to my locker, but no longer yelling at me. I think he just wanted the gum. The week after that the gum ran out, but he was coming to my locker just to talk to me. Somewhere in there we became friends and to this day he high-fives me into a hug on site.