It happened in middle school, then again in high school with a different group of girls. I was fairly popular and pretty well liked by everyone. So I never knew why, I just knew these girls hated me and let me know it every day when they blocked the sidewalk and wouldn’t let me pass. No words were spoken. They didn’t have to be. They were loud and clear. Actions are deafening loud, aren’t they?
Bullying is abuse. It’s degrading someone mentally, verbally, sexually or physically.
Last week I mentioned the girl they called ugly. Now 23, she spends her life speaking out about bullying and the sometimes irreversible damage it causes. Thankfully, she’s found purpose in her struggles and has been able to use them to help others.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Recently a local high school girl took her life, a result of social media bullying. What? Yes! This beautiful young girl, who attended a local church and youth group and who had so much to live for, fell for the lies. Now, her family and so many others are left to grieve wondering why. What a tragedy!
It’s ridiculous, really. Who do we think we are? Is it our right to abuse and degrade?
Words are a gift. The ability to speak and write them is a gift from God to encourage and bless. Why all the slanderous talk? Why the belittling? Are we really so small we have to make others feel smaller so we can feel bigger?
A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit. Proverbs 15:4
Just this week, I saw a clip on the news of a local preacher misusing his tongue and platform as a minister of truth to bash gays and lesbians. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He suggested they all be fenced in an “electrified” fence, dropped food by flying over, and if left there long enough they would all die out.
I’m not mentioning this to spawn heated discussion about the gay lifestyle or the most recent vote on the marriage amendment. This is not a political posting. However, I was enraged! This was hateful bullying with words.
No such comment toward any people group based on handicap, color, gender, or lifestyle should ever come out of anyone’s mouth, and especially not a professing Christian’s. These comments and thoughts in no way represent Jesus-like character. Put simply, Jesus loves, and such behavior does not represent His love. He gave His life to cover all our sin.
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12
This saddened me that a pastor would misrepresent Jesus and other Christians in this way. Gays and lesbians are human beings. God created them. He loves them. We don’t have to agree with their lifestyle to love.
And the same message goes to those who bully Christians for standing firm on God’s word as truth. They don’t have to agree to love.
Some didn’t play nice as children and have carried that behavior into adulthood. Christian, non-Christian, child, adult, school, work, internet, red, yellow, black and white we’re all precious in His site. But we have a problem, don’t we?
How can we stop this bullying absurdity?
1) The golden rule. Treat others (even bullies) the way we would have them treat us.
2) Kill em’ with kindness. Hurting people hurt people. And sometimes, ignorant people hurt people. So consider that our enemies may not know better, or they may have lived through difficult circumstances. We should forgive and pray for them! “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Romans 12:14
3) Talk to our children. I’m convinced that most problems in society start in the home. We need to be proactively spending time with our children. Ask if they’ve been bullied or if they’ve ever said or done hurtful things to someone else. Then LISTEN. Help them understand how to choose quality friends. And demonstrate to them by example how to be a true friend and how to love the sometimes un-loveable.
4) Ignore ignorance. This is not to say, ignore abuse and just keep taking it. But don’t internalize it as truth. Look at the offender’s actions and/or words. Then ask, what does God say about me? Always measure lies against the Truth. Stand tall knowing as believers in Jesus and children of God we are blessed, favored, loved, forgiven and beautiful!
5) Tell someone. Whether we’re being victimized or making ourselves victim to our own bad choices, confessing to someone trustworthy sheds light over the darkness of the situation and begins the healing. Brainstorm with that person ways to overcome it or get away from it. And most importantly, pray and let God in on it.
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another,” Romans 12:9-10
“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6
Here’s a website I found helpful while researching for this post.
Have you or someone you’ve known been bullied or abused? Do you have other helpful advice?