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RISE ABOVE YOUR BULLY

Jeanine DeHoney

Bully Free Zone FTR TSP 166340587Being caught in a bully’s crossfire may leave you feeling as if you have only two choices—to fight or to flee. Yet as people of faith, we have a third choice—to deal with bullies the way Jesus did. Think about it: Jesus was bullied, ridiculed, spat on, and struck down; but he didn’t fight back physically against those who bullied him. Instead, he forgave them.

 

Early in his ministry, Jesus taught us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44, NRSV). Forgiveness allows us to release to God our hurt, anger, and pain. Yet, most of us find it difficult to love those who harass or intimidate us.

If you need help to rise above your bully, try one or more of these tips:

  • Don’t keep it a secret. If you’re being bullied, tell someone. Never be embarrassed or ashamed about being bullied. Some of your favorite celebrities have been bullied and talk about it publicly to let others know they aren’t alone. There is power in numbers. Tell an adult you trust.
  • Create an anti-bullying plan. Writing down a course of action you can use daily, weekly, or monthly will enable you to focus on something constructive rather than on the negative actions of a bully. For example, during Week One you might offer your bully a smile. If that goes well, then during Week Two you might comment to him or her about a school-related topic: “Oh, did you have a hard time with the algebra homework, because I sure did.”
  • Talk to God about your bully. Set aside some quiet time to talk with God about your bully problem. Be honest with God, and ask for guidance in the situation.
  • Put on x-ray glasses to see your bully’s true colors. When you observe your bully through x-ray glasses, not condoning the actions but trying to see what lies beneath the mean exterior, you may discover someone who is very insecure or hurting, someone who is acting out because of deep-rooted pain.
  • Write a letter to your bully. Tell your bully how his or her actions make you feel. Be specific and direct. Even if you don’t send the letter, writing a letter can be therapeutic, allowing you to think through the problem and to get stuff off your chest. If you wish, share your letter with your best friend, your parents, your pastor, a teacher, or a counselor.
  • Walk away. It’s not cowardly to walk away; sometimes this is the most courageous and Christ-like action you can take.
  • Surround yourself with positive friends. Don’t become a loner because you are being bullied. Make new friends; go out with old friends. Spend time with the people who love you.
  • Become proactive. Join an anti-bullying club. If your school doesn’t have one, take the lead and talk with your principal about starting one. Get the word out: tweet it, make Facebook posts, create an anti-bullying mural at school. Bullying must stop—and it will if we all take a stand to end it by following the way of Jesus.

 

DIG DEEPER

Dealing with a bully can take a toll on your self-image. Design a sign or poster that lists all of your awesomeness so you will always have a reminder of your unique qualities. For example, your list may include these traits: “Proud to Be Me, Creative, Thoughtful, Cool, Artistic, Outstanding, Unique, a Winner.” If you prefer, create a name poem by writing a list of your positive qualities, each one beginning with a different letter in your name. Hang your poster or poem in a place where you will see it every day.

Jeanine DeHoney is a freelance writer in Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania.

—from devozine (May/June 2013). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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