" You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. "
Matthew 5: 43-48
We will be known by our love for others. A love that doesn't always make sense to this world for it's not of this world, but of God. God living inside us invokes our spirits to share with others and express to even those who wound us a love that is infinite, for it is a love that is infinite that resides deep within the center of our souls. The very essence of love, in the form of the Holy Spirit, resides deep within our soul's core and scripture compells to provoke it outward, so that we may shine like lamps, causing the darkness that surrounds us to be swallowed in its brilliance.
It's not easy seeing our children in pain, hurt and wounded by the words of others. As parents, we seek to protect our children from both physical, spiritual, and mental maladies. If only we could shelter them in the protection of a bubble, nothing ever touching their senses other than pleasure and our affections. But that's just not how life works. In fact, God calls us to go out into the world, to step past our comfort zones, and to do that we must be strong, have courage and be able to face afflictions wherever they may come.
There is no easy solution nor is it easy to pinpoint the causes of bullying. It is something that has always existed and a phenomenon that is on the rise. Perhaps it's because of soaring divorce rates and broken homes. Perhaps it's because of the over exposure our children have of violence, whether in the form of movies, shows, video games or even violence in their homes and neighborhoods that they are forced to witness and process in their tiny minds. I think the reasons differ with each child and have to be analyzed on a case by case basis. I do know one thing though, that love has a great way of working through situations that seem all but hopeless to human minds.
God doesn't expect us to be pummeled or to not stand up for ourselves, but He does give us the tools to react in such a radical way, with such a powerful love, that it can cause the ways of this world to stop in it's tracks and take notice. It even has the power to part the rising waters of anger and hate and send a peace that surpasses all understanding in their place.
Last year I remember picking up my daughter from school and feeling a heavy weight form in my heart as she broke down in tears. Her feelings had been hurt by the same boy again. This particular boy had been targeting her for awhile and much she had kept to herself but was now spilling forth as she bore her unrestrained feelings and experiences to me. I remember feeling saddened by her plight but also, as a mother, very relieved that she felt she could come to me with her struggles, thoughts and feelings. I think, when dealing with bullying, or any other troubles our children face, communication is essential. Our children need to know they can come to us and be listened to.
I remember feeling this overwhelming urge to pray. Not only for my child, to be able to go through these trials unafflicted, but also for this little boy. I don't believe children are born bullies. Perhaps in rare cases, but for the most part they are products of their environment. Perhaps this boy was bullied by older siblings, feeling neglected at home, watched his dad bully his mom, who knows. But acting out in such a way, to me, is a cry for help.
I talked about these things with my daughter...not in so much detail but I brought up the fact that many times children who are suffering take out their frustration on others. To make oneself feel better oftentimes people try to level other's self esteems so that their own can prevail. So, I suggested that we pray over this situation together. God always wants us to come to Him in times of trial and when we do with open hearts He oftentimes provides us with a discernment and direction that we hadn't had before, opening the way to solving our problems.
I feel praying for both my child and her bully, with my child, helped in numerous ways. It helped my daughter feel less of a victim, putting a perspective on the situation. It let her know that it was not her fault and that she was not the problem, the actions of this child were. That there was nothing wrong with her but there was everything wrong with the way this child was handling his own emotions and words. It helped her become more calm and see hope through what she perceived as a dismal situation. It helped her feel empowered, as she was doing something about this unpleasant reality that had been plaguing her at school...she was coming before God and lifting her persecutor up in prayer. We prayed for peace over him and his family and that they would feel the healing love of God in their hearts, opening them all up to greater levels of compassion. It was a practical application of what it means to love as a Christian. We aren't called to love just those who love us back, but all people, even those who fling insults our way.
What happened to my child and her bully? Fortunately, the situation dissolved. I'm not sure how, or why, but by the grace of God this child moved on from my daughter and hopefully to no other victim. My daughter was released from the grip of anxiety and fear that the situation had on her. Glory be to God! Bullying doesn't always go away like that though and many times children who are bullied end up responding in tragic ways to the traumatic aggression they've had to endure from others. We all have seen examples of this, most notably the horrific shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado just a few years ago.
Has your child ever been bullied? How did you handle the situation? Did you ever turn to prayer...why or why not? Has your child ever been the bully? How did you help him/her to deal with his emotions in a less harmful way? Thoughts are appreciated!