Dealing with Bullies
It seems like we deal a lot with bullies in school. If you bully others, why should you stop? And if you're being bullied, how do you deal with it?
My first year in middle school I knew I wanted to be popular. It was the first few weeks of school, and there was this little girl who was really nice and would follow me around. I liked her because she was so sweet to me. But sometimes she would get annoying because she'd sit next to me at lunch when my other cool friends wanted to sit around me, so I'd ask her nicely to move. I didn't mind her following me around until one day one of my acquaintances walked by and saw me talking to her and said, "Ew! You like that girl?" Unfortunately I replied, "No," because I didn't want to ruin my good reputation. Once I saw people always picking on her, I did, too, so people wouldn't think I liked her. People would cut her hair off during class, and after class they would gather in a group telling her that she was shedding like a dog. I joined in, and it got to the point to where I was the main person who was being mean to her. I was in sixth grade, and I had never really had anybody make fun of me before. People had made rude remarks about me, but I was never considered a "loser."
But Jesus says, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matt. 19:19). I realized that bullying people is the worst torture you can put others through because it can make them hate themselves. If you love someone as yourself, you won't be mean to people because you wouldn't want someone to be mean to you. Also, if you love someone equally as yourself, you would want the best for that person. I grew up hearing this in Sunday school class, and I always agreed with it. But it never struck me that I should be nice to that girl, even though loving your neighbor is one of Jesus' greatest commandments. I had always thought of myself as being a good person at heart, but I never saw what I was really doing to others. If only someone had pointed this out to me, it probably would have made a difference not just in my life but in the lives of those I was mean to.
Jesus also tells us, in his parable of the sower, how a sower goes to plant seeds and doesn't get anything out of the ones that were sown in bad places: "… because they had no root, they withered away" (Matt. 13:6). If I had had a good relationship with God, I would've thought more about how I was treating others and less about how people thought of me. Jesus goes on about the seeds which "fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold" (13:8). To me, based on my experience, this shows that if you do good unto others, you will receive good back; but if you treat others badly, it's only a matter of time until someone is mean to you.
The next school year, I went to live with my dad and was home schooled. I hated not being able to hang out with people, so eventually he enrolled me in a private school. I didn't know anybody there, and I felt dumb because I felt like I was just following people around. At first, everyone was really nice to me. I met this one girl who I would hang out with. I was still very egotistical at the time. I thought it was kind of odd that she was never hanging out with anybody else. Then a few weeks after I had started hanging out with her, she said, "You've probably heard by now that I have a bad reputation." I didn't know what she was talking about. She told me that no one liked her. She had gone to that school since kindergarten and was the biggest loser in 7th grade. People started being mean to me once they realized that I had become friends with her. My popularity withered away, and I was a "loser" for the first time in my life. It got really bad: people were throwing food at me during lunch. I started dreading going to school every day. I felt so bad about myself that I wanted to die. I contemplated suicide, but there was always one person who would make me happy, so I didn't. I wished someone would make them stop, but that never happened. I wasn't someone to rat on people a lot, but eventually I told a teacher who was in the lunch room. But the teacher didn't see them doing anything, so they didn't get in trouble. This continued the rest of the year. But one day, a girl told them to stop. Even though they didn't listen to her, her action made me very grateful.
Dealing with this made me realize a few things. I hadn't planted my seed in good ground the year before when I had hurt the other girl, and now I wasn't getting good things back. I was being treated the way I had treated others. Also, I realized how much pain the girl I picked on must have gone through. After experiencing that, I told myself that if I ever saw that girl again I would tell her how sorry I was for putting her through that; that she's a wonderful person; and the only reason why I put her down was so I could feel better about myself.
During this time, I started to care more about God and doing right by Him. I knew all of this had just happened so I could learn from it and so I wouldn't pick on others again. This made my life much better, and things started going well in my life. I hope that any teen or pre-teen out there who reads this realizes that he or she can plant a good foundation with God so he or she won't want do things that aren't God-like.
And, if you happen to be the one who is being picked on, just know that the people who are picking on you are doing it to feel better about themselves. It's their problem, not yours.