Spiritual Practice


Emily McMahon

When I was in middle school, everything was great. I had amazing friends, and we never fought. Then I learned that one friend was saying horrible things about me behind my back. Soon my other friends joined in, and the hate quickly moved onto Instagram for all to read. The gossip and the bullying became so bad that I decided to switch schools.

When others say mean things about us, we feel hurt. Often our immediate response is to hurt them back. But I have discovered that reacting to hate with hate doesn’t solve anything; it only causes more hurt. So what can we do to stop this vicious cycle?


Anxious Teenage Student Sitting Examination In School Hallremember who you are

When people call us ugly, fat, nerdy, or dumb, we may begin to look at ourselves differently. We might even start to believe that the things others say about us are true. Words have the power to inflict pain, but they cannot change who we are unless we let them. When someone says awful things about us, God whispers in our ear what is true. Psalm 33:15 (NRSV) says that God “fashions the hearts” of us all. God created us with different characteristics and calls each of us “good.” Remember: You are a child of God. Nothing anyone else can say or do can change God’s love for you.


see beyond the words

Sometimes the haters we encounter are going through a difficult time and are acting out of their anger and frustration. At other times, their hurtful words might be fueled by jealousy. Often people who gossip about or bully others have been mistreated or abused. Take time to reflect on the things haters might not be able to see: Our strength does not diminish theirs. Tearing us down does not make them look better. Instead, we grow stronger and better by loving one another and celebrating our differences.


trust the way of love

We can’t always avoid gossips or bullies, but Jesus has given us a way to respond: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28, GNT). Instead of stewing over the lies being told about us or firing back in anger, we can take time to think and pray before we react. We can ask God for compassion as we try to understand what these people might be dealing with. We can pray for them—that they might find peace and recognize God’s unconditional love at work in their lives.



Are you willing to practice handling hate? If so, try one or more of these ideas over the next month:

Chipped and Scratched Painted Metal Heart

  • Write in your journal the words others have spoken about you. Each day, write over those words a verse or phrase from scripture that reveals what God thinks about you.
  • Think of someone who has slammed you behind your back. Ask God to help you see beyond the words to the hurt this person may be feeling. Pray daily that God will heal his or her pain.
  • Whenever someone posts mean things about you or someone else, stop, take a deep breath, and pray. Then take the risk to respond with love and kindness to the online bully and to anyone else who might be hurt by the post.
Emily McMahon , 20, is the mother of a 3-year-old. Emily has always known God, but over the last couple years their relationship has been an unbelievable, amazing, life-changing journey.

—from devozine (January/February 2019). Copyright © 2018 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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