Monday, November 2, 2009

Bent but not broken

I am sure some of you can think back to when you a child, there may have certain things that helped “shape” who you are today.

Some of them may have been positive, like being the star player on the basketball team and shooting the winning basket for the championship, “He Shoots,,,,he SCORES and wins it for the Home Team, Hooo-Rah!”, you get the picture.

Or maybe you were the victim of abuse, neglect, or worse?

In any case, how you respond to these changes and situations that happened to you in your life will greatly have an impact on what choices you will make and your behaviors or quirkiness, and your attitude in general.

Well, grab a hot cup of Joe, (that’s coffee for all you non-New Englander’s), and read on, what I am about to share with you has only been vaguely talked about with my wife, (if she was listening, ha-ha). These are some true stories that happened to me when I lived in Hawaii as a child in the late 70’s for a few short but memorable years when I was about 11 yrs old.

I know, I know, this has to be a feel good story, right? I mean, come on, THIS IS HAWAII we are talking about, palm trees swaggering in the island breeze, Pina Colada’s, White Sandy Beaches. What on earth could go wrong in Hawaii? Everything.

May dad, my middle younger brother and I moved out to HI alone and left my mom and my youngest brother back in RI. They were due to come out with us about 6 months after we set up shop, got a house and got settled, etc.

My first real memory of when things maybe were not going in a positive direction is when we were living with my dad’s friends while we looked for a house and me, my brother and our friend Chris with whom we were staying with decided to venture out into the neighborhood and meet some other kids. In a matter of about 20 minutes, I was in a fight with a local kid, don’t remember his name, didn’t see him coming, but he beat the crap out of me, while my younger brother stood there defenseless. I must say for the record, I was a total puss at the time. I did not know how to fight or had a mean fighting type of personality. Blonde hair, blue eyed, and bambi-like innocent qualities.

When I sorta came to my senses, Chris picked me up and walked me back to his house and was kinda like, “welcome to Hawaii”,,,oh by the way, plan on getting beat up all the time by the local kids because you are white.” Hmmmmm, I don’t remember seeing that in those fancy books or brochures they let you read on the plane on the 15 hour flight over there from Boston. “Come to Hawaii, relax, enjoy, see the wonderful sights, and get ready for the can of whoop-ass that is coming your way Haole”, (this is the local term for white trash; think the “N” word and pronounced “How-Lee”)

It seems like Hawaii, (or back then anyway), had a sort of discrimination thing going on with white people. Not tourists mind you, but white people who came to Hawaii to live. They considered it an invasion and a take over to some extent. If I can find a pic of me in the school photo and upload it, you will not believe it, I am the only white kid on the school.

From that day forward and what would seem like an eternity, I got my butt whooped on the way to school, on the way home from school, on the weekends, in my own yard, in their yard, all over, almost every day. I mean they didn’t really take any days of from this, they stole from me and they took my toys. To elaborate on some of the things I was faced with I vividly remember skipping going to the playground one day when my friend Kiave call me up. That same friend called me later that day to tell me that my next door neighbor Patrick Borden, (white kid), was shot in the chest at close range w/a shotgun by a local kid Shane Johnson because of a scuffle turned bad. Patrick was 12 yrs old, looks like a picked a good day to stay home, Patrick was not so lucky.

I also remember walking home from school one day with my brother and two older teens drove up to us and stuck a gun in my eye socket and cursed at us and told us to make sure that when we saw them again, we moved out of their way. My brother was so scared he jumped into the ravine that was on the side of the road to hide while I yelled for him. We laugh about it now because we told my dad what had happened and we went to the local Police Dept to do a sketch of the guys and put out an APB. I could not remember what they looked like because the gun barrel was kinda blocking my view (ha-ha), but my brother took forever to draw his best recollection of the perpetrators, a smiley face, like this :-) “Attention all units, attention all units, please be on the look out for a 17 yr old male driving a late model powder blue Beetle and resembles a smiley face”, dang dude.

In some respect I felt like on of those battered dogs you see on TV in the PETA TV commercials. Bent but not broken. I would find myself very jumpy and ready to defend myself at nothing, like a shell shock war veteran. I had to go to therapy to work it out because I was wound so tight that I really had a hard time unwinding and still do to this day.

At the time, it hurt, a lot. And it changed something inside me for the good; it made me a fighter, tough, and against racism because I vowed at an early age to NEVER hate someone, fight, or otherwise based on their skin color. As I became a Christian later in life, I learned to love and love others, and that the love you have heals the sin no matter what.

I do know one thing though, My God Loves Me No Matter What. He created me, and in some respect, allowed this terrible thing to exist in my life to make me better, improve me, and alter me. He also delivered me from Evil.

In some ways, I am kind of like the Olive. The Olive in itself is OK; it tastes pretty good, maybe a bit salty on its own. But crush it, push it, kneed it, press it, and work it and the most wonderful oil comes out of it. So sought after back in JT, (Jesus’ Time), it was considered a rarity.

When you first meet me, I can be a bit harsh, salty, and sarcastic, but under this hard exterior is a decent guy who had some hard times as a kid, (more stories on that for another blog), and when you get to know me and connect with me, I ain’t that bad after all.

Don’t get me wrong about Hawaii, there were lots of wonderful times out there, it really is an amazing place filled wonderful nature and the fishing and surfing is A1 top notch.
I would love to go back to Hawaii some day to visit and catch up with a few of the guys to say hello. No chips on my shoulder, only forgiveness for all and to make peace with it, maybe then I will not be so jumpy and restless.

God Bless you all for listening- Joshua

I am linking this blog post up to the carnival over at Peter Pollock's place with a "remembering" theme. Make sure you head on over and check out all the other great blogs!


Heart2Heart said...


What a great testimony of how far you came in your walk with God. Not only did you not let it get the best of you, you healed from the inside out!

Great stuff and love your writing style!

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Joshua said...


Helen said...

I really admire that you forgive them.

Peter P said...

You should go back, it would be an amazing experience both for you and them.

Great post... Thank you!

Anonymous said...

What a totally different view of Hawaii than most of us have...

This is a great story of forgiveness and learning/growing... I'm so glad you posted on the carnival, I really enjoy your writing.

Bernadette Pabon said...

I can relate, because I was always discriminated againts. I also learned the hatred of racism, and yes that is the biggest crime we have in our world and that is racism. Your writting is phenomenal and you got your pont accross, and fnally God has you on the palmn of His hand. Loveit.erebout

Joyce said...

wow...that was quite a story...I hope you do get to go back one day. A great illustration of forgiveness in spite of deep hurts.

christy rose said...

Just want you to know that I sat here reading your testimony today with my mouth hanging open. I can not imagine having to go through some of those things as a kid. BUT GOD!!! He got you through it and now you are able to display an avenue of His grace that you would not have been able to do if you had not gone through those things. God has a way of redeeming everything that was hurtful in our lives into something that brings us blessing and brings Him glory!

Joshua said...

thanks all!

Anonymous said...


You pretty much summed up my experience as well. Although, sometimes, I think you got the worst of it because you were older and the kids where bigger. I've been able to forgive a lot, too. Thank God for his grace.
love, your bro, Alex

prashant said...

I really admire that you forgive them.

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