Meekness at Meeker – Strength Under Control

I’ve heard meekness defined as “strength under control”.
If you really are strong you don’t have to strut it. It’s there when you need it.

A hundred years ago when I was in high school (actually it was more like thirty-five) this guy Merle kept bugging Vicki, Mike’s girlfriend. She tried to be nice but he just couldn’t accept the idea that she didn’t want to be bothered, didn’t find him funny – not at all.

Mike watched this go on for several days (usually lunch hour was the worst). Then one day Mike quietly walked over to Merle, let him know in soft-spoken tones that if he didn’t quit, he (Mike) would have to hit him (Merle). “And I’ll only hit you once,” he said.

Mike had done well at the state wrestling tournament, was a running-back on our football team and strong as an ox, but he never strutted his stuff. He never had to. I think he was one of two or three guys in Meeker High School right about then who could grow a full beard, and Mike was a sophomore. He was quiet, humble, and strong.

Well, Merle stepped over the line – on purpose.
(Can anyone be that stupid? Maybe so.)
Mike looked at him. Stepped up and hit him. Once. Merle crumpled.
“I told you. Get up now. We gotta go to the office.” And off to the office they went, Merle holding his face in his hands, Mike in obvious pain as well.

Later that afternoon they came back to school, Merle with his broken jaw wired shut, Mike with a cast on his wrist and hand.

One hit, just like he’d said, but my goodness! It was truly power under control.

This is the best example I have so far of meekness. And it happened in the halls at Meeker High School. (Handy, hmm?)

7 Replies to “Meekness at Meeker – Strength Under Control”

  1. pchrismac

    This is an amazing picture of true strength. It is not prideful, it is not aggressive, but it will come out and do what is necessary.
    Notice, too, that Mike new exactly what was to follow after his actions. (As far as we can tell) Mike did not attempt to justify his actions, but instead willingly made them known.
    Meekness begets other qualities of deep character in our lives. In this case, we see (1) honesty – Mike went straight to the principal’s office; (2) accountability – he only hit him once; (3) integrity – he could have invited a fighting situation, but instead made it known that he would not act unless provoked, and then only as necessary; (4) the opportunity for reconciliation.
    Sure, number 4 looks like a long shot, but because of Mike’s meekness, honesty, accountability, and integrity, this classmate was only taught a lesson, not beaten to a pulp. Clearly a respect for him grew as a result of the encounter. And if this classmate ever apologized sincerely, I’m sure Mike would have opened the door for that reconciliation.
    Great post.

  2. Phil

    Thanks for the insightful comment!
    Some follow-up thoughts.

    1) Mike definitely was honest. His dad was a science teacher and wrestling coach for the school system so he had not only his own reputation to think of, but also his dad’s. He was mature beyond his years, I think.

    2) & 3) He only needed one hit! That he came back to school in a cast told us a lot about how hard he hit Merle. I was trying to remember if they were suspended for a day or not – can’t recall for sure. I think if a guy would have asked him he’d have said Vicki’s comfort was worth whatever it took. He did it for her, no doubt about it.

    4) I can tell you for sure that reconciliation came on Mike’s terms, and was coupled to a respectful fear for the consequences of stepping over the line again (sound familiar?) The rest of us took two giant steps forward in our respect for Mike, especially those of us who saw it happen. It wasn’t rage at all. As you said it was “teach him a lesson, not beat him to a pulp”. I’m sure Merle remembered the lesson every time he needed another pain killer for the next several days or longer.

  3. James

    Mike might have explored other options. And a really humble and strong person would have been able to think up many altenatives. That is real strength — and it comes from creativity. The violence of Mike’s actions was severe. This is not meekness at all.

    This story glorifies violence. Too bad.

    Shame on Merle for geing such a pain. But Mike’s reliance on punching people in the face (and breaking another person’s jaw) is way out of line. Maybe Mike’s own self-inflicted injury will teach him a lesson next time he sets out to punch someone in the jaw.

    There are much better alternatives than to resort to violence.

  4. Phil

    I’m sorry you missed the point, James.

    You’re free to disagree, of course, but Mike truly was humble. And strong.

    Had you been there to see the things leading up to and the level of Mike’s self-restraint when “it finally came to this”, you’d have applauded along with the 25 or 30 students who saw it happen.

    This IS meekness. Full-strength, undiluted, doing only what’s necessary kind of strength under control.

    Perhaps another reading of pchrismac’s comment will help settle it for you in your thinking.


  5. Jason

    Power under control would be to know that you could break a kids jaw, but resist doing so and going to the Principal’s office instead (and having him resolve the matter).

    Most often, as in your example, violence is a loss of control.

  6. cmdawest

    Phil, I agree with James and Jason. It is YOU who is missing the point. And to prove it, would Jesus or Ghandi or Mandela have hit Merle under the same conditions? Neither Mike nor his girl friend were in any danger, so the argument of self-defense is not applicable here. Mike demonstrated a lack of creative non-violent thought. I am not a pacifist.

    If, however, Merle was a bully who was giving Mike a beat-down everyday on his way home from school, and one day Mike got the courage to stand up for himself – and knocked Merle to the ground, breaking his jaw, I can see how that would appeal to a sense of justice in all of us, but even under these circumstances, he would have other options than violence, though few of us would criticize him for standing up for himself.

    The circumstances you describe are completely different – and I think reveal that Mike didn’t think very hard about his other options.

  7. Phil

    From my vantage point, and remember I witnessed the taunting and pestering day after day, this was an honorable solution.

    Would Jesus have done likewise? Perhaps he would have. I do know He threw people out of the temple who had turned a building intended to be a house of prayer into a mall of corruption (Matthew 21.12-13, Mark 11.15-18, Luke 19.45-46) and He condemned a fruitless fig tree with no forewarning (Matthew 21.19).

    I find it noble that Mike defended his girlfriend. Perhaps his virtue and quiet strength contributed to her decision to marry him – they’re still together.

    I’m not a violent man either – ask anyone who knows me – but I admire strength under control. I always will.

    Phil —

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