It was elementary school and Takis Poulopoulos knew how to pull my strings and make me mad. He lived two houses down the street. He would call me names at the bus stop every morning and would continue doing so when we got off the bus at the end of the day. By the afternoon, I would have had it. So, naturally I would go over and beat him up. It was not unusual for him to go home with a bloody nose.
You would think he would have learned his lesson, but he came back every day doing the same thing. I believe this went on for weeks. Even if I walked away, he would come up and pour it on until I broke down and hit him.
His Mom would call my Mom and my Mom would try to help me, but the only way I knew how to deal with the name calling was to fight back.
Then, one day my Mom held me and said, “Listen, when Takis gets off the bus and starts calling you names, you put your hands in your pockets and walk away.”
It seemed simple enough. But, would it work?
The next day, sure enough, Takis got off the bus pouring on the insults and names.
I remembered what my Mom told me and I put my hands in my pockets and walked toward the house.
Takis came after me trying to get me to retaliate.
With as much grace as I could muster, I simple said, “I’m not going to fight you.”
I turned and walked toward the house.
Unbeknownst to me, my mother was watching the whole matter from her bathroom window that faced the street. (I am sure she was praying for her son to do the right thing).
I realized when I made it to the back door, I did it. I couldn’t believe it. I actually did it.
I opened the door and my mom tackled me with a huge hug!
She was running from her bedroom, down the stairs, and met me as I was entering. She was so full of joy and literally screamed with excitement over me. This one event changed how I viewed conflict forever. From that point on, rarely did I ever lash out to anyone again with my fists. I found out that I didn’t need to fight. I could put my hands in my pockets and walk away.
I am happy to say that Takis and I resolved the tension between us and became friends.
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. – 1 Peter 2:23