As children, we only think about life on a surface level. Having fun, our toys, food and security are usually at the top of our priority list, and this is normal. However, when we become older, we hopefully begin understanding things with a more mature perspective.
I’m reminded of the Scripture found in I Corinthians, Chapter 13, Verse 11, which talks about how it’s all right to think like a kid for a while, but there will come a day when we put away our toys and become accountable for our thoughts and actions. We all have memories of people in our past that had certain personalities. Unfortunately, bullies are usually never forgotten, whether we encounter them in our childhood or as an adult. By the way, let it be said that nothing positive can come from this type of barbaric behavior.
I remember when I was around 10 years old, there was a girl at school a couple years older than me who was constantly being made fun of and treated harshly. I can see her clearly like it was yesterday even though this was 50 years ago. She was a stocky girl with tangled jet-black hair and her clothes were often wrinkled, but what really caused the negative attention was her constant runny nose. There are many reasons why children are mean, but as a shy child, I’m ashamed to admit I was a part of the crowd of spectators that quietly witnessed the daily harassment of this poor young lady. How I wish I would have had the courage to stop them, but I was just a scared skinny kid who was thankful they were not picking on me. After months of mean and rude comments, the entire school eventually learned who she was and also made sure they stayed far away from her. Not only was everyone afraid of catching her “cooties,” whatever those were, but they did not want to be associated with her and risk being included as another target.
I just so happened to ride the same bus as she did, and one afternoon I observed an act of cruelty that was even more disturbing than normal. I will never forget that day as it was one of those muggy fall afternoons and the bus was packed. I was being squeezed against the window, hugging my books because it was so crowded, and I kept thinking what a relief it will be when I get home. The bullies began their daily routine of taking turns hitting this girl on the head with their heavy books, and you could tell it hurt.
I felt very sorry for her and always become emotional when I recall this story. I now see myself as no better than a spectator at a Roman coliseum when they would throw the Christians to the lions. Anyway, everyone was cheering and mocking when all the sudden, one of the boys grabbed the bag out of her hands and started tossing everything out the window. I looked back and could see her books, notebooks, personal items and papers blowing down the road and across the lawns. I was in shock because I realized the importance of these things and wondered how anyone could be so vicious. I can still hear the crowd screaming and going into a frenzy because evidently, they thought this was the ultimate humiliation. The bus driver was hollering for everyone to keep the noise down but as far as I know nothing was ever done about it.
Aggressive behavior may be traced back to how children are raised, but there is no excuse and no place in this world for a bully. For those who have been victims (statistics show that one in three kids are bullied), these painful recollections are commonly kept secret within the depths of our soul. However, as hurtful as these wounds may be, we can turn to God and ask Him to help us with forgiveness as a way to receive emotional healing and spiritual peace.
DR. BILLY HOLLAND lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian author and community chaplain. To learn about his free CD offer, visit billyhollandministries.com.