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Bullied to the Brink

John Garrison

Bullies: Some live in your neighborhood, some go to your school, some go to your church. Bullies have always been a part of my life.


devozine, John Garrison

In the second grade, a girl pushed me as I stood in line. “Hey!” I said, “You pushed me.”

She screamed, “I didn’t push you!” Then she bit me.

The teacher asked the class if anyone had seen her bite me, but everyone denied it.

In the seventh grade, a kid shoved me across the hall because he said I was in his way. Another year, a guy called me names and picked on me every day, taunting me and spitting at me.

In grade school, I made it through the torment with prayer and steadfast belief; but now the pain was growing worse. I was pushed to the brink; I couldn’t take it anymore.

 

CHANGE

In 2006, my youth director encouraged me to go to our Youth Annual Conference (YAC). A bit skeptical, I thought, Sure, another place for kids to torture me! But I went anyway. That week, I met people who were nice to me; and I began to feel better about myself.

While I was at YAC, I heard about the Conference Council on Youth Ministries (CCYM), a group of United Methodist Youth from all over South Carolina who serve by helping other young people. I wanted to be part of that group; so although I was a bit reluctant, I decided to apply. I was so excited when I was selected!

devozine, John and GabbyAbout a week later, the CCYM went to Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. I met a girl named Gabriella Garrison, and we clicked because we had the same last name. She was kind to me and helped me to see a new side of myself. She encouraged me to pray in front of people; and when I did, my shell cracked open.

 

STANDING UP TO BULLYING

Once I was happier with myself and able to find strength in myself as well as in God, I realized that I could stop the bullying. I didn’t have to resort to violence, but I didn’t have to back down either. One day at school, a kid kicked my seat and shot spit balls at me. I just looked up and said, “Dear Lord, forgive him; he doesn’t know what he’s doing.” He thought I was weird, but he left me alone. From then on, God has protected me from harm.

 

DIG DEEPER

If you’re being bullied, maybe you too need to be bullied to the brink in order to stand up for yourself. And at the brink, may you find:

B-ravery to stand up and be strong.

R-ighteousness, which connects you to God’s strength and power.

I-ndependence built on belief in yourself and the courage to move on.

N-ever-ending belief in God, who will be with you when bullies come.

K-indness not only to friends but also to enemies and bullies.

Now that I’m happier with myself and stronger in my faith, I’d like to thank the bullies who pushed me to the brink!

 

TIPS FOR DEALING WITH BULLIES

> Confront a bully or talk to his or her parents.

> Pray for bullies, for they may not know what they’re doing. Often they are acting out because of some pain in their own lives.

> Talk to an adult or an authority figure and ask for help.

John Garrison of Greer, South Carolina, has published a book of poetry entitled Reflections of a Teenage Soul and is working on his autobiography, Unspoken Word: The Story of John Garrison.

—from devozine (September/October 2009). Copyright © 2009 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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