Sunday, October 19, 2014

#Bullying Doesn't Just Happen to Kids

I've thought long and hard about this post.  What I wanted to say.  How I wanted to say it.

Bullying is something we hear about all the time as adults; especially in education.  And as we all know too well, bullying is something that didn't just start recently.

I remember getting picked on quite a bit as a child.  Either because of my size, my friends, my extra-curricular activities, my personality, my voice, you name it.  We've all been there.  I wouldn't classify a lot of that as bullying, but there was some.

I remember what it felt like as a child.  To hear the names being called.  To get to a point where you start to believe the things the bullies say.  Where you start to doubt who you are.  It took me a long time to get to a place as an adult where I could look back at some of those instances and believe the things they were saying about me weren't true and realize that they things they were saying were coming from a place of hurt within themselves.

As an adult though I had never experienced "adult bullying".  Had I ever had people say mean, hurtful, untrue things?  Well of course.  But that's something that everyone deals with.

But over the last month, I've been introduced to what it feels like as an adult being bullied.  With my new job as an administrator, I knew people wouldn't be happy with everything I did.  I knew I would make others upset.  I did as a teacher!  But I knew it would come more as an admin.  Funny thing is, not one parent or student at my school has been like that!  The bullying has come from someone closer.  Someone who used to be involved in what we're doing down here.

To have someone text me over and over and over again the most hateful, untrue, and damaging things I've heard in years.  To call me ungodly, clearly not a Christian, a liar, stupid, clueless, damaging, and so much more.  To have that same someone bring multiple members of my family into the mix.  It just doesn't compute in my brain.  And through all of this I have chosen to remain silent.  I haven't responded to any texts.  I haven't responded to any messages.  I didn't want to get involved in a war of words.  But it reminds me again of how when someone is in an unhappy place themselves pain comes out.  And I have always believed that "hurting people hurt others".

But I write this not to share my pain.  I write this in hopes that as you read this you think about the things you say to others.  The things you text to others.  The things you write about others.  We all get hurt by others, but we don't have to lash out and continue the pain.

Because you see, what happens is that no matter how strong of a resolve the person you're belittling has, that person eventually begins to doubt their worth.  I've been there recently.  I started doubting who I was.  Started doubting what I was doing.  Started doubting me and all that God tells me I am.

I am no angel.  I am not perfect.  I have not claimed I am and never will.  I make mistakes on a daily if not hourly basis.  I have parts of my life I regret.  But one thing I know is that I will never and have never sought out to make someone feel less than they were created to be.  I come from years of being picked on and called out.  I know what it feels like.  I know the lasting marks it leaves.

Think twice.  Think twice before you lash out.  Think twice before you send out a text.  We all get angry or jealous or whatever.  But no one ever deserves to feel like trash.

For those of you who read this and have been through something similar, here's what I've learned.  I learned that I can sit here and think about the messages sent to me and allow them to define me.  OR I can surround myself with people who know me and truly care about me.  The road through bullying isn't easy.  The scars don't ever quite heal, but you learn.  And the biggest lesson you learn is how to continually show love.  Because in the end, love will always conquer hate.

And my biggest take away through all of this ordeal has been forgiveness.  To give it freely and often.  God has forgiven me far more than I have ever deserved and how could I not forgive those who hurt me?  I have to.  Because so often when we forgive, it frees us as well.  So to the person who's bullied me I say this, I forgive you.