I was very frightened in my young life of the bullies in the school, especially of Jake.
He was a year older, bigger and just plain mean. He seemed to delight in terrifying me. At least once a week Jake hit me, or did something aggressive and mean to me. I went home with many bruises and black eyes because of him.
Those were the days when adults figured it was best for boys to work out their problems and learn to stand up to themselves, so my mother and grandparents urged me to learn to defend myself rather than interfering in my life. I finally got up the courage in 5th grade to fight back. In my life rehearsal, I watched that day. I also saw my newfound courage from his perspective, which included the horrible abuse that he was receiving from his father.
When I stood up to Jake and hit him back, it totally changed his thinking about his world. I saw that he felt powerless and victimized himself. My little act of courage showed him that he was not. He never bullied me or anyone else again. He was changed by that experience. He became my friend because I had unknowingly given him the key to his own freedom from tyranny.
Our new friendship allowed Jake to resolve his own relationship struggles with his father. He was emboldened by my action to stand up to his father. Just as Jake stopped bullying me, his father stopped abusing him when Jake refused to submit, and actually left shortly after that.
Seeing the impact that my friendship had upon him was a revelation to me. I had never suspected that there was any motivation for his bullying except meanness.
After the vision I understood why he had taken his frustration out on me and others.
From my life rehearsal I learned that this was all divinely engineered, that we both needed this close relationship, and it had to start with his bullying me in order to heal him. I saw that I had agreed to all of this prior to our birth. Our divinely ordained friendship had a lasting impact in his healing and his relationship with his family, and upon me. I could not have learned these things without him.
What I learned by seeing all of this was that our relationship was engineered by God, and had a significant impact upon both of us. We both changed. I quit being afraid of bullies and of life in general. Not only did my actions begin the healing of his abuse, but his part in my life began my healing as well. I realized that fear was not necessary and that I could stand up for myself and actually make friends because of my courage.
That realization still influences me today. Our relationship was ordained and engineered by God to save us both. In my thinking today, it was well worth the few bruises it cost me.
The last thing we did before Jake graduated and moved away was to perform in the musical Oklahoma. He played Jud, and I played Curley. In the musical Judd and Curley are both in love with Laurey. Curley confronts Jud about his bullying and they become friends of sorts. But, after Laurey agrees to marry my character, Curley, Jud breaks into the wedding and threatens Curley with a knife. In the ensuing brawl Jud falls on his knife and dies. Curley of course, gets the girl. The play was a metaphor of our relationship, which was not lost on either of us.
I have often pondered why God would let me see this life rehearsal knowing that I was not actually going to die. My assumption prior to this experience was that you see your life rehearsal just one time, when you actually die. I wondered for years why would God give me this powerful insight into my own life, and then send me back into mortality.
— As quoted by John Pontius, “Visions of Glory”