emotions are confusing.
emotions are confusing.
I have been bullied my whole life. That is not something you would immediately gather from looking at me. I am conventionally attractive. I am smart. I am confident. I come from a loving family. From the outside, my life seems pretty nice. So what exactly have people found to use against me? I've heard everything from anorexic to fat to stupid to fake to weird. However contradictory, all of these things have one thing in common. Their motivation had nothing to do with me.
Misery loves company, and let me tell you teenagers are pretty miserable. In most cases, people are mean because they are insecure. EVERY instance of bullying in my life has been because the other person was struggling with their own demons. Now, do not get me wrong. There are some inherently nasty people out there who are just mean to be mean, but those people are certainly not the majority. Our instinctual reaction to hate is to shoot back something equally mean. Why should we be nice to someone who goes around being hateful and rude? Why do they deserve to be treated kindly?
"The most useful tools I have found for dealing with bullies are kindness and grace."
If we think about the root of the problem, the other person's insecurity, then what good would it do to hurt them? Retaliating in hate only feeds the other person's insecurity, or gives them the reaction that they are looking for. When people are miserable, it gives them an inkling of satisfaction to see other people suffering with them. The most useful tools I have found for dealing with bullies is kindness and grace. There is a passage that stands out to me when I talk to people about these interations.
This verse used to frustrate me so much! Why in the world would I let people walk all over me like a mat?! However, as time went on, I started to look at the verse in a different light. Too often our line of reasoning is, "Well, they were mean to me so I am going to be mean right back!" What Jesus seems to be saying here is that instead of retaliating, we should respond in a way that is quite surprising. How wild would it be to respond with kind words to someone's hatefulness? Instead of slapping the perpetrator back, we are diffusing the situation by turning our other cheek to them also. This interpretation lies in the wording.
"Turn to them the other cheek also."Jesus does not say turn away from them. For so many years, I interpreted this verse as meaning to turn away ourselves away completely and offer no reaction at all. This verse is not asking you to be stagnant. In offering ourselves yet again to this person in an act of grace, we are challenging their expected outcome. It forces them to reevaluate how the world views them. If you are insecure, and people respond to your outward expressions of pain with kindness, then it forces you to think that maybe not everyone hates you after all. Often times, the motivation behind hurtful comments is that the person is looking for confirmation that their suspected insecurities are true. That confirmation comes from the anticipated angry response. When you respond with something more along the lines of, "That was not very kind, why did you choose to say that? Is everything okay?" it shows that you are not purely angry but rather, concerned for them. I have watched people break down and cry when I have said those exact words, because before that point no one had stopped to consider that maybe they were hurting.
Now, just because someone is sad it does not give them the right to be mean. This is not meant to say that people are allowed to be bullies because they feel a certain way. There is no instance where that kind of behavior should be condoned. Rather, it is a call to act out of love. Two wrongs do not make a right, but an act of simple kindness and grace could be all it takes to stir a change in someone's heart.
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