Have you or your child ever been the victim of a bully?
If you are human and breathing, chances are you said yes. So, what did you do about it? How did you advise your child to deal with the bully?
My daughter recently told me about an instance in which someone said something rude to her. In my tired, frazzled state, I said the most intelligent thing that came to my mind: “They’re stupid.”
Not my greatest mothering moment.
While on my way to the most recent American Christian Fiction Writer’s conference, I sat next to an amazing woman. Sylvia* grew up in small-town Arkansas before the days of desegregation. The world she experienced as a child included separate schools with hand-me-down textbooks from the “white” kids, separate neighborhoods, separate churches, separate lives. And a world rife with bullies. But Sylvia didn’t speak of her childhood with bitterness or anger. Instead, she told stories about an amazing aunt, a generous father who pastored two churches while working for a railroad company, a praying mother, and a great-grandmother who’d been emancipated from slavery and fled on foot through the wilderness.
As Sylvia talked, I began to see one of the reasons she glowed with God’s love and mercy. God gave her an amazing mother.
While recalling a painful bullying moment from her childhood that would have made even the kindest of mothers want to punch someone, Sylvia’s face brightened as she told me of her mother’s reaction. Her mother held her while she cried, but her message ministered to Sylvia’s soul: We will pray for those who hurt you. They have their own sets of problems and don’t know any better. They hurt just like the rest of us. And they need Jesus to heal their hearts.
That night, when her father got home, Sylvia’s family sat around the dining room table, held hands, and prayed for the person who had bullied her. They also prayed for the other people involved. Every day from that time on, Sylvia prayed for God to bless those people.
What an amazing testimony of a mother’s wisdom! And a father’s spiritual guidance. Even though her mother later admitted she wanted to throttle the people that hurt her children, she knew the only way to change the world—and people’s hearts—was through Jesus.
Thanks, Sylvia. I may not see you again until Heaven, but I hope never to forget you.
*Not her real name.