Bullying is back in the news.
A few “who” “what” “where” lessons I’m learning.
Who? Anyone can be bullied – even an NFL player.
What? Bullying – The technical definition:
“the repeated mistreatment of an individual by a person or group of people with malicious intent, humiliation, intimidation and sabotage of the person.”
Where? Bullying can happen anyplace – not just the playground or middle school cafeteria.
Ever hear of “workplace” bullying?
Ever listen to a bullying pastor?
Boardroom. Locker-room. Break-room. Family-room. School. Home. Church. Everywhere. Bullying happens.
The impact? Huge. A person takes his/her life. A football player walks away from a multi-million dollar career. A senior citizen can’t shake the memory.
Two weeks ago as I walked out of an assisted-living facility where I give a weekly devotion to the residents, I noticed a car parked awfully close to mine with its door left open. My first thought was, “I hope the driver didn’t ding my door.” I know. Not the most spiritual thought I could have had.
As I squeezed into my car between the two doors, I noticed the back seat of the car was packed full. The driver was moving into the residence. He came out of the facility, saw me between the cars and apologized for getting so close. I felt bad for my thought.
I offered to help him move in and he reluctantly accepted. “I don’t want to put you out.” “I’m sure you’re busy,” and so on. I insisted, so together, we moved his stuff from his car to his new home.
His “stuff” – now reduced to what would fit into a small sedan.
His “new home” – from a large “family” home to an efficiency apartment.
He was a bit disoriented in the hallway of the residence. He had mistakenly gone to a room a few doors down from the one where he had instructed me to put his “stuff.” I went up to him.
“Sir,” I asked, “Did I hear you correctly? Is your room #224?”
“Yes, that’s right,” he said. “I’m a little confused today,”
We walked to his room. I saw his name on the door with a big sign,“Welcome to Your New Home, Red.”
“Is this right? Is this your name?” I asked.
I don’t know if he was overwhelmed with the combination of the major transitions through which he was going or if it was a reminder of an unhealed hurt, but with a tear trickling down his cheek he told me,
“Yes, ‘Red‘ is what they called me when I was a boy. I had bright red hair. Kids can be mean. There was a lot of teasing.”
An 85 year old gentleman. A 79 year old hurt.
Yes. Bullying has an impact. An impact that can last a lifetime.
Some would say, “Get over it.” “Toughen up.” “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Maybe. I don’t think, though, that that would have helped my new friend.
Jesus gives us the context in which we can deal with the hurts from bullying.
Hurting? Let’s listen to who God says we are. The bullies’ words are lies. God’s words about us are true. Get some help to work through the hurt. Psychologists, counselors, therapists are great. It’s a process.
Jesus gives us the context in which bullying can be stopped.
See someone hurting? Be a Good Samaritan and “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).
Put our Christianity in practice and stand with those who are hurting and against all forms of social injustice.
Hurting someone? Why are you doing that? What inner insecurity are you taking out on others (James 4:1-2)?
Golden rule time – Matthew 7:12.
Someone you meet today may be bullied. Be a friend.