I grew up being picked on.
The first bully I ran into was in Kindergarten. The very first day of school I ever had, he stepped on my hand while I was playing with blocks. He continued to bully me all through elementary school and junior high.
As I got older, I got fat. And then, I got acne…bad. And then, I got glasses. In fact, in sixth grade, I looked like a kid from “The Far Side” comic strip. I was mocked and made fun of, daily.
I tried out for the basketball team in 7th grade, and didn’t make it. I got made fun of.
I was still fat. I was still covered in acne. I had greasy hair. Fortunately, I had gotten contacts. That helped a bit.
Since I wasn’t the most athletic of folks, I ventured into the fine arts. I was in the chorus and was in all the drama productions. That ended up being a blessing. I found an outlet where I could pour myself into, and found friends who cared about the same thing.
To be honest with you – from about 3rd grade till 9th grade, I was miserable. I went to a private school, but only was able to go because my father worked there. We didn’t have money like a lot of others did in my class, so I never had “designer” clothes, or the latest and greatest gadget.
The sad thing is – bullying is one of those things that never stops. Even now, as a 37 year old, I get made fun of. My weight, my bald head, they draw a lot of critiques. Granted, the bullying is different these days, but it still is a shame that adults make fun of other adults.
I guess this hit a nerve with me the other day. My sweet little girl honestly has one of the kindest, gentlest, sweetest spirits of any little girl I’ve ever known. There are two young girls in her class that make fun of her. They won’t play with her. Its sad that even in the first grade, there’s already “popular” kids. I hate that word – “popular.”
She has come home several times, saying these two girls made fun of her on the playground, at lunch, etc. Of course, my wife and I try to tell her – “Just don’t pay any attention to them…” But, I know better. Its hard. Its hard when you long to be accepted, and you’re not. Its hard when you just want to be nice to everyone, but they don’t want to be nice back.
The thing that scares me is that this is only the beginning. She is only 6. If she’s only 6 and she’s already being put in this awkward position, I know we’re going to be holding her many times over the next 20 years, listening to her cry about how mean someone has been to her.
Some people say “that’s just how they are…”, or “their heart is in the right place…” but I’m don’t buy it. A bully is a bully. Whether its physically bullying someone, or verbally bullying someone, or just an attitude of overconfidence – its not fun to be around those people. How a bully becomes the most popular person in their circle of friends is beyond me.
The bible tells me that I’m supposed to love my enemies. Some of the hardest people in the world to love are bullies – the ones who hurt us. I often don’t want to forgive them, much less love them.
But Matthew 5:38-41 (NLT) says “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.”
And when I feel like getting revenge, I need to remember this, from Romans 12:19-20 (NLT) “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,‘ says the Lord. Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”
Its one of those lessons that’s a lot easier to say than do.
Remember, you will always have bullies in your life. Oftentimes, the bullies in your life don’t even realize they are bullies. Continue living for God. Continue to remember the golden rule – to treat others like you want to be treated. If someone is mean to you, treat them with kindness. And above all else, remember that according to Matthew 7:2, Jesus says “For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”