It wasn’t the opportunity I expected, nor honestly wanted.
As I sipped my coffee one morning enjoying the mountain views, I prayed, “Lord, I pray for opportunities today. And help me to see them when they come.” Satisfied with my request, I picked up my Bible and read for a bit.
Later, Bruce and I peacefully moved through our morning with horse chores, breakfast, and what-not. Suddenly the sound of a truck roared across the gravel road next to us. That’s a little close, we thought.
We watched in disbelief as a woman and her young friend blazed through our campsite, made a U-turn, and nearly took out our trailer slideout. The woman promptly drove over our electrical cord to our horse fencing and stopped … about three feet from our trailer.
We were parked on wide-open public lands. Better parking spots, complete with water hookups, dotted themselves across the prairie. “Are you kidding me?” we said in disbelief as it was clear this woman had no regard for … well, anything.
Something rose inside me and I realized I had to confront her. I prayed for grace and headed out the door. I’m not ashamed to say I was shaking a bit—I hate confrontation.
“You’re parked right in the middle of our campsite,” I said as I looked up into the icy blue eyes of a 5’ 9” woman in her 60’s. “And you’re parked over our electrical cord,” I chided.
“We wanted to park here so we would be near the bathrooms and water,” she retorted. “And don’t worry about the cord, my truck didn’t hurt anything. We’re experienced,” she added with a slight tilt of her chin.
But I held my tongue, watching the face of her thirteen-year-old friend. I knew that look: sheer anticipation and excitement of riding a horse. I could have said and done a lot more than I did—I had the right. But I decided there was no way, no matter what, I would pursue a reprimand for her guardian’s actions and ruin the day for this little girl. However, I confronted ole Miss-Icy-Blue-Eyes just enough to allow the girl to see this kind of behavior was unacceptable.
As they saddled up, I cleaned our horses’ pen. I tried to ignore the fact that the woman’s pony tromped precariously close to our electrical cord. The little girl actually made an effort to keep him off of it, but she hadn’t been taught the correct way to handle a horse.
As I raked manure, I prayed. “Lord, help me deal with this. You know I have an issue with bullies, and I can see this is no coincidence. This woman did not need to park here, and for whatever reason, she’s targeted us.” I raked some more (albeit digging into the ground a little harder than I needed to).
“Kill ‘er with kindness,” came the answer. That’s not particularly what I wanted to hear. I also heard, ‘“Vengeance is mine,” saith the Lord’—I liked that one better.
Our “Boys” taken care of I walked back toward our rig, glancing at the woman and girl as they prepared to mount their horses. “Have a nice ride,” I called.
“Oh, you too! You too!” the woman said, her words tripping over themselves as they spilled out. “I hope it’s not windy like it was yesterday,” she added.
“Yeah, I know. It was crankin’,” I replied. End of round one.
Later on when they returned, I observed further disregard: Without asking, they used the camp host’s hose that watered a fledgling tree. The horses tramped on the hose while they endured a cold water bath in the frigid wind. The hose was then left without replacing it on the tree; A manure pile graced our electrical cord next to their trailer; And a rotten apple littered the ground. It was quite obvious the range of this woman’s knowledge or give-a-hoot was just this side of nothin’.
When they left, Bruce surmised that they parked close to us to hide—they didn’t want to pay the $5.00 to use the water and figured they’d mooch off our spigot. And they never did use the bathroom.
I’d like to say as soon as they drove off, so did my issue with the whole situation. But I still had to deal with myself and the fleshly side of me that wanted to throw down. However, the contrary thoughts I entertained would not have landed a good outcome.
There was no doubt I had done the right thing, backing off in respect for the little girl, but I needed help. I felt the old rage rekindle deep within me—a rage against the bullying spirit. And I couldn’t shake it. The Lord knew it and confirmed the word He impressed on me in the horse pen: I felt led to read a story in my email from Chicken Soup for the Soul called the “Kindness Cure.” The girl in the story was being bullied. In tears she went to her mom for help. “Kill ‘er with kindness,” her mom advised. The girl did, and the bully backed off.
“Thank You, Lord,” I laughed.
Even so, I still needed a tad more help. Granted, I could think of worse scenarios of bullying. But apparently I needed to start small, at square one, with the elementary version of “How To Handle A Bully God’s Way 101.”
I stood behind our rig gazing up at the gazillion stars like I did every night. I was reminded, yet again, how big God is and how much He cares about every detail of my life. So I humbly asked Him for help. He reminded me that to truly let it go, I had to forgive. And, after I’d “killed ‘er with kindness,” forgiveness would further get me off the hook and also allow Him to fully do what He needed in her life. After all, she and the girl needed Him too. “Remember, you’re not fighting against flesh and blood,” He impressed. “You’re fighting against the principalities and evil forces that drive people to do ignorant stuff.” (Ephesians 6:12)
The way He instructed me to handle this encouraged me that I had permission to stand up to a bully and not flatline like a doormat. I could look a bully in the eye, but on His terms, in His way.
That night I slept like a rock. I woke up to birds singing (seriously, I did), enjoying the peace I needed. Of course Satan tried to bombard my thoughts again with the previous day’s events, but I just told him to shut up. I was diggin’ this peace and determined to hang on to it.
This opportunity was indeed not what I wanted, but it’s exactly what I needed. Thank you, Jesus.
Book: Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God's Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled—https://www.amazon.com/Walk-Like-Warrior-Inspirational-Encouragement/dp/1512774812