By: Stephanie Fink
Our oldest son, Jake, exited his school bus that sunny Friday afternoon, deflated and defeated. This was entirely different from his normal exit which typically included a big smile, hug and the challenge of a race home.
I inquired, “What’s up bud?” Hesitantly, he told me that on his five minute bus ride home from school, his “friend” closed-fist punched him at least ten times as he was pretending to be a robot.
Jake asked his friend to stop hitting him but his friend continued. I asked Jake why he didn’t move to another seat. He was afraid that his bus driver would yell at him since they have assigned seats. I feared the answer to my next question, “Well, how did that make you feel honey?”
His sad eyes spoke louder than his words, “Scared.”
I lifted Jake’s shirt and observed the numerous red marks on his milky-white core. My insides were more explosive than a fourth of July sky. Silently, I cried out to the Lord, “Father, why? Help!”
Confused and hurt Jake asked, “Why’d my friend hit me?” I embraced him tightly, “Honey, real friends don’t punch.” Jake balled up on my lap like a cat in a sun spot and cried. I felt powerless that I was not able to protect him there on that bus.
To add to the moment, my anchor of a husband was working overseas. If there ever was I time that I needed to not just be the adult, but also act like one…it was now.
Jake and I prayed and came up with a plan of action. He agreed that after I talked to this boy’s parents, he was going to talk to his friend too.
I called the boy’s mother and told her what happened and if after she talked with her son, if Jake could speak with him. She agreed. When she called back, Jake courageously asked his friend, “Why did you punch me? You made me feel sad.” The boy replied, “I didn’t hit you.”
Jake dropped the phone and went to cry. Over the span of the weekend, the boy’s parents called three more times, to tell me that their son didn’t budge and that he “didn’t hit Jake.”
Confused and hurt, Jake asked, “Why would my friend lie?” Embracing his little body, I whispered, “Honey, real friends don’t punch and real friends don’t lie. He is not a real friend.” Jake balled hysterically.
Our Saturday morning devotion theme was this, to P-U-S-H.
I asked our sons who they wanted to “p-u-s-h” for. Without hesitation, Jake said this little boy, “that God would make him my friend.” I put on a poker face, knowing Jake was right, but I won’t lie, I wanted this little boy to pay for what he did to my son.
“What an awesome idea Jake. Let’s pray right now.” So we lifted our heavy hearts and prayers to the most real friend I’ve ever known, Jesus.
During my Sunday morning private time, I can across this verse, “If someone strikes you, don’t hit back. Love your friend and love your enemies. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer.”
I shared Matthew 5:32-48, (Message) over breakfast and told him, “That’s what God told us to do – respond with prayer – and you did it! You are a great friend to God and this boy. Mom and Dad are so proud of you, and most importantly God IS proud of you son!”
Again, Jake decided right there and then to pray for this boy to, “make a thumbs up choice” and tell the truth.
Again, he p-u-s-h-ed and again, my heart pulled.
Monday morning arrived. Jake knew I was contacting school administration because being hit is not okay. I learned three things that day: 1. the boy’s father went in before school started. 2. the boy not only admitted but apologized for punching Jake. 3. that real friends don’t punch, they push.
Jake’s bedtime prayer that night which was just like him; short and sweet, “God, thank you for answering my prayers.” With misted eyes, I said a hearty, “Amen!”
One year later, the very same boy that punched Jake, stood up for him when a lunchbox inadvertently hit Jake in the back of his head. This boy found told the teacher, and stood up for Jake, cause that’s what real friends, like God, do. They show up for you when you have no words to speak.
Navigating through life’s pulls, pushes and punches are difficult. Impossible if it wasn’t for God. God used my elementary aged son to teach me that true friends don’t punch, no – they push. They pray until something happens.
Steph’s writing has appeared in Proverbs 31 Ministry, P31 Woman magazine. In her free time she can be found encouraging numerous MOPS group in the northern Virginia area on the “Colorful Art of Friendship – Allowing God to Paint the Masterpieces” and MOPS leaders on “Being a Bright Light”.
Steph can be found blogging at www.encouragedinheart.org or on Facebook at Stephanie Fink or on her Facebook page Encouraged in Heart – Stephanie Fink. She loves big hair, big cups of coffee and big bear hugs.