6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
No mother can stand it when her child comes home from school in tears. But it’s happened to nearly everyone. Bullying is an age old crime, and because it usually affects the weakest among us, it seems to be a horrible evil.
I remember when my middle daughter came home from school to tell us someone had put a pig’s heart (yep, the real thing) in her locker. She’d spent the whole day at school after finding her books and papers a bloody mess first thing in the morning. A sarcastic note accompanied the organ, and the administration hadn’t called us to tell us about it. My husband was furious, as was her younger, but pretty ferocious, sister.
It took us about a week to discover there were two or three boys behind the incident. Two were her friends. A senior mastermind had convinced them they were playing a funny prank. My husband called the whole thing bullying bordering terrorism.
But bullying is almost as old as time. The first bully in recorded history is Cain. Let’s face it, that deadly stone in the field couldn’t have been the first time he’d tormented his brother. There were murderous bullies in Sodom, and David was bullied by his siblings and then Saul. It’s not a new problem. My own family received its share of gum in the hair and other bus related bullying forty years ago, but what can Christian parents do about it?
First, we have a responsibility to make sure neither we nor our children are the bullies. Titus 3:2 tells us “slander no one, avoid fighting, and be kind, always showing gentleness to all people” Sometimes that’s really hard, but it’s important.
It is a bit easier if we can follow Paul’s advice: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.” (2 Corinthians 5:16) On both sides of the bullying, if we start looking at people the way that Christ sees them it’s easier to stop bullying, and we can begin to forgive, and even care for the bully.
My daughter chose to forgive her bullies even before she knew who they were, an act that impacted her life as well as the life of those boys for many years to come. In two other tales I’ve heard of bullying, one boy spent a Summer praying for his bully, and by the next fall, the bully, still not the nicest in the class, told my young friend he was trying to stop being so mean. The second boy offered a ride and then a coat to his bully when he saw the need, and the bully became his friend.
In all three instances the one being bullied decided to be like Christ and see their bully through the Savior’s eyes, not an easy undertaking. But each one of them saw the issue resolved in some way. And each knew a peace that passes understanding even before the resolution.
It hurts Christ to see our children bullied too. Cruelty was never part of the plan, but Christ and my young friends are proof that we have the power to overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)