In the first half of eighth grade I was short and skinny. Puberty was a dream. My growth spurt was still a few months away. I was height and weight challenged. You might think that this would have toned down my attitude, but confidence is not something I have ever lacked. In general, the size and height challenges did not play out in daily living. Stepping into the dorm of a new boarding school changed all that.
I was perfect cannon fodder for those in high school. I was smaller than the guys in high school. I was as light or lighter than everyone else. I also had an attitude. The combination created a perfect opportunity to put me in my place while having the fun all high school students thought they should have with junior high students.
For the first few weeks, the fun-at-my-expense pranks were reasonably harmless. The routine cuff on the back of the head and the thank-you for saving me a place in line were actions that I was beginning to learn how to live with. One night I must have crossed the line. I do not remember what I said or did, but it must have been something. Four guys and a convenient container nearby, I was stuff, butt in, body folded nicely thank-you, into a mini-steel barrel masquerading as a trash can. The panic that flooded every fiber of my being only got worse as they gleefully slide the mini-barrel back and forth on the long smooth hall on the 2nd floor.
David words described what I felt at the time. “Now packs of wild dogs come at me; thugs gang up on me. They pin me down hand and foot, and lock me in a cage – a bag of bones in a cage, stared at by every passerby.” (Psalm 22.16, 17)
I look back and wonder. As bad as it felt, everyone involved went on to become a good friend. As terrible as it was, I began to understand what humbleness was about. What was bad was good.