Looking up the definition of bullying we find this short & sweet (?) description-
1. to inflict physical or emotion harm upon
2. to make timid or fearful by or as if by threats
What really intrigued me were the synonyms-
brutalize, bully, ill-treat, ill-use, kick around, maltreat, manhandle, mess over [slang],mishandle, mistreat, misuse
blackjack, bogart, browbeat, bulldoze, bully, bullyrag, cow, hector, mau-mau, strong-arm
Think I might know them all! We have all heard those words, "If you, then I"; "What were you thinking"; or the all popular listing of your faults and downfalls--where you come up short. The emotional wrangling to create submission of will--as evidenced in even small ways.
Being bullied begins early in life---well if you have siblings. There is a definite hierarchy of mistreatment among the grands. I have come to the conclusion our sinful bullying begins at an early age. Why I am guilty myself of some bullying when it came to my own children. I am afraid on occasion my empty threats turned into sure bets when I was driven to the edge by willful disobedience and the long arm of physical harm and the rod of correction were called upon to intimidate the troops back into line. It seemed prudent in the moment.
When exploring why we are bullied, I discovered a whole multitude of reasons people bully---too many to list them all. As I read through the list, it dawned upon me it was all about power---power and control over another. A way to establish dominance over another human being--by any and all means possible.
I have experienced physical bullying in my life a few times (sibling love taps for instance). Yes, it was painful in the moment, but it does not begin to compare to the emotional damage of verbal bullying. If we are given a message enough times--we begin to believe the messenger.
While exploring levels of bullying, I remembered a story which I thought funny at the time--but it is an excellent example of inadvertent bullying. Someone asks you to lunch and asks where you would like to go. You really do not care--and tell them so--you ask them to select. They insist--will not take no for an answer--they demand you select--as you continue to insist it does not matter. Finally--you give in and make a decision. They immediately tell you what is wrong with your selection and begin to pout because you did not guess where they really wanted to go from the get go. You beg and coerce and finally they divulge where they wanted to eat. Do you see the pattern--the emotional control of the moment--the seizing of power? Over something as mundane as where to eat lunch, the bully showed its face.
Digging deeper into the topic and how we as Believers should react, I thought of the bullies in the Bible--OH YES--they are there! Let's don't forget Saul---read David's Psalms--I am pretty sure he considered Saul a bully. The pharisees might have been guilty of mistreating the less learned. Why even beautiful Delilah was guilty of using her bag of tricks to have power over Samson. Bullying is never limited to one gender and crosses the lines of all types of relationships. Bullies have been around a LONG time----check out Cain & Able.
How does God instruct us to handle bullies---He tells us to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us----WHAT???? You have got to be kidding me. NOPE--that's what The Book says! How about this non-Biblical adage-"You can't fight fire with fire"; or in the wise words of that lost as a goose, Lulu---"Everybody gets wet in a spitting contest." SO God wants us to love the bully!
Love away--smother them with love, but I don't believe God requires us to step up to the plate repeatedly for another round of dehumanization. Love them from afar---remove yourself from the situation, put distance between you and the bully. Pray for them--and pray for wisdom on how to handle the situation--but do not become the doormat. Walk away from the abuse and allow God to be the judge.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. "BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD." -