The gentleman entered the restaurant – 60s, slightly gray hair, medium weight, medium build. He was with a younger woman, his daughter, we later found. They had been seated for a couple of minutes, tops, when he began shouting. “Where is the service?! This place is going to hell in a hand basket!! We’ve been sitting here……(inarticulate loud mutters).” My friend (yep, the Hammer) and I exchanged startled glances.
The female server appeared at their table and apologized for the delay. The man jumped to his feet, called the waitress a bitch, and slapped her across the face. There was no thinking about it. I was on my feet and in his face. “It is NOT OK to treat someone like that, especially someone who is serving you!” (Brilliant statement…jeepers!) The man lunged for me as I stepped around a table. He couldn’t reach me so he bulled toward my friend, who was still seated in the booth shouting “Call the police!” as she dialed 911. The man hit her in the arm, the ineffective blow glancing upward to catch her in the side of the face. A younger man in leaped from his table to defend her, and was hit in the face. Restaurant employees and patrons struggled to physically subdue him, but He fled to the ladies restroom where he continued to bellow until the police arrived and carried him out on a stretcher, since he had broken his leg during his tirade. His dining companion, his daughter, wandered from table to table apologizing, bewildered. “He has never done anything like this before!” she said.
What was I thinking?! I wasn’t. Everything in me screamed “She is NOT going to take this alone!” The motive may have been right….my RE-ACTION was not.
I don’t think this was just about defending the server. She was an adult – it was presumptuous of me to intervene. I didn’t know her. Her life didn’t appear to be in danger. I didn’t know her past, or how this incident would affect her. I didn’t think to ACT to calm the man or attempt to act wisely or thoughtfully. That is very unlike me. My M.O. is to be still and watch, analyze before I move. Oh, yes, I have a temper. But I wasn’t angry. AND I WASN’T SCARED.
I think I was defending my daughters. The way I didn’t always do when their father raged at them for no reason (Honor Your Father, http://wp.me/p2GxIs-41). The way I didn’t do when I was “poked” (http://wp.me/p2GxIs-50) over and over by insults, manipulations and subtle threats. I THINK I WAS ABSOLUTELY FED UP WITH ABUSE.
If he had taken my life for confronting him, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN WORTH IT.
It was, simply, NO. NO. NO!
I think this may also explain my reaction to my friend, The Hammer (Round Two With “The Hammer”: http://wp.me/p2GxIs-3V).
This happened several years ago. If I was to relive that incident – current time – I suspect I would be less reactive. I might watch, be wary, consider how to respond wisely – just like old times with Peter. I probably wouldn’t get in the man’s face, but I would stand, be ready, and divert him if needed. I would call the police and make a statement – it would be documented – in case. I HOPE I would be PROACTIVE….consciously trying to influence the best possible outcome (peace, resolution, less violence), rather than being REACTIVE. I now choose to ACT (rational choice with thought of best outcome and how to achieve that) and not RE-ACT (irrational response which plays into the abuse with little consideration of outcome, and which re-establishes me as victim).
And however the situation resolved, I would go to that server and tell her, whether she needed to hear it or not, that she didn’t deserve it, didn’t do anything to provoke it, that I respect her and the work she does. I would need to say it.
My friend went to see him in the hospital the next day, to tell him she forgives him and to pray with him and talk with him. He was apologetic and embarrassed. He didn’t remember the incident, and didn’t know what had been affecting him.
Maybe he had a medication issue, or some other physiological problem. Maybe it was the first time. Maybe it wasn’t. I respect him, feel very sorry for his pain and injury. And I see my responsibility to grow in balance and peace. BUT….
BUT – I STILL DON’T ACCEPT HIS ABUSE, TOWARD ME OR ANYONE ELSE.
Do you think the following verse is literal in this situation?
Matthew 5:39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
In what circumstance do you think such a response would accomplish the redemptive work the verse suggests? How does that work? How about my friend’s visit to him in the hospital?
I really want feedback on the following question – generally applied – not specifically to the incident I just related:
What actions, and what scriptural view, would protect and comfort the abused, and provide accountability and redemption for the abuser? This isn’t a rhetorical question…I don’t know the answer. I’m asking for your input!