Have you ever had an encounter with a bully? I have.
Before I explain, let me share with you the definition of the word bully from the Merriam Webster Dictionary.
Bully– a blustering, browbeating person especially one who is habitually cruel, insulting or threatening to others who are weaker, smaller, or in some way vulnerable.
There are only a few details I can remember about the first person who tried to bully me. I remember her name: Hermalena. You must admit that’s a very unique name. I mean, seriously, do you know anyone with the name, Hermalena?
I was curious about how many people had this name so I looked up the name on Facebook. Apparently it’s a popular name in Indonesia. I’m from Kentucky and I can tell you this, there was only one Hermalena in my school, only one Hermalena in my town and I would wager to say, only one Hermalena in the entire state!
I’m not really sure what this young lady’s background was. I don’t know how she got blessed with such a unique name. I only know that she was not a happy individual; she had a very tough persona.
Although we had a rocky start, Hermalena and I ended up becoming friends. I have a very vivid memory of us standing in her room listening to a Bee Gees record that she played on her Bee Gees record player. Talk about cool!
Fast forward a few years later…
I’m minding my own business in class and a “friend” tells me that so-and-so wants to see me in the bathroom. Talk about a tough persona. The person waiting for me made Hermalena look like a choir girl.
I left the class and went to the bathroom. I didn’t want to, but I guess I felt I had no choice. This girl was taller than me, more athletic than me and more popular than me. I remember standing face to face with her in the bathroom; well, almost face to face, remember, she was taller than me. To be real, I’m not sure if I made a remark about her that was repeated to her by my “friend” or what I did to make her angry. I just remember that no matter what I said to her that day, she remarked, “Well?” Finally I asked her if that’s all she had to say. I guess it was because she left the bathroom. No punches were thrown. There were no face slaps or hair pulling. Nothing. I stood up to this bully and she eventually backed down. It was the cat fight that never was.
Even as an adult I’ve felt bullied. I was called into a “meeting” with 3 ladies and one of them was very unhappy with me. I had no idea why. She angrily explained what I had done. I didn’t even know I had done that. I apologized and tried to explain, but she wasn’t having it! Even after we all prayed together she wasn’t ready to reconcile. I suppose she felt she had a right to hold on to her anger.
Have you ever felt like that? Sometimes we feel like people deserve punishment for the way they treat us and we are determined to be the ones to do the punishing!
The Bible does not support our mission however.
Romans 12:19 “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.”Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used
Ephesians 4:26-27Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used
And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”
In each of the experiences with bullying mentioned here, I feel like the people involved really weren’t angry with me per se. They were just angry. I don’t know their background. Maybe they have been disappointed and disillusioned by people close to them; people they care about.
When we go through difficult and disappointing things in life we sometimes find ourselves saying things like, “I will never allow myself to be hurt like that again.” or “I will never love anyone else as long as I live.” or “I am not going to let people push me around anymore!” or “I am going to take care of myself since no one else will!”
This is self-talk and each sentence begins with the word “I.”
I recently read a quote that really encouraged me, “Instead of listening to our self-talk, we should be talking to ourselves.”
That may sound like a contradiction, but it’s not. I’ll explain. Our self-talk is our internal dialogue that is spontaneous and is influenced by many things, good and bad. However, we can override self-talk by speaking the Word of God over ourselves! Isn’t that good?! (I wish I could remember where I read it so I could give credit where credit is due.)
So listen, if you have been bullied, disappointed or disillusioned at some in your life, (which I suspect you have) go back and take a look at the edicts you’ve made. Take a look at the lies you’ve believed about people in general or about yourself. What does the Bible have to say about it? The Bible is the standard by which we determine good and evil. It is our guidebook for life. It is truth. If you’ve believed a lie, combat it with the truth. Speak that truth over yourself every time the lie comes up in your self-talk. Write the truth on a sticky note or an index card or put it on your phone’s home screen or lock screen. In other words, put it where you can see it so you can memorize it and use it when you need it!
I’m taking my own advice. I have a stack of index cards on my desk.