There have been times in my life where I have just been a hot mess. And I mean this in more ways than one. Sometimes the pile of yucky mascara smeared filth is totally because of poor choices I have made. Yet, truthfully, there are times when the pile of manure that I have been thrown in is actually been the affliction of others' poor choices. Now this is really hard for me to say, to vocalize - so I will write it instead. I am built to look at each situation and say, "what did I do wrong, Oh Lord? How could I have made this outcome different? Where did I make the wrong choice that brought about this calamity? How was I disobedient to your will?" And folks, I am no saint. I am probably one of the children of the Lord that is walking around with a very bent and tarnished halo. Got that image? My miry image may not be as bad as Pigpen in the Peanuts comics, but eh, just a notch or two above.
The book of Isaiah is full of rebuke and full of reminders of the children of Israel that they have made bad choices. It is full of reminders of who God is. It is FULL of reminders of His eternal promise. There are children of the children of the Israelites suffering from the decisions and choices of their descendants. They are suffering from affliction and persecution and abuse and just misery because of the actions of others. It happens. It happens with situations other than your ancestors choices. So don't sit there and immediately assume that all things bad that have happened to you is your grandfather's fault. Don't also assume that bad things that happen cannot be your fault. More often than not, they are bad choices on our part. However, there are times when we are the victim of circumstance.
For instance, do you think that the victim of a head-on collision caused by a drunk driver did something to provoke God to unleash His wrath in such a way? NO! Nor do we think that the child wandering around the bar at age 5 hopping from table to table asking for food or money because her father sits at the bar threatening horrible punishment upon her if she does not should be forces such embarrassment and punishment. There are countless predicaments that I find in the lives of friends and family that are challenging and sometimes tragic. With many of them, we find ourselves asking the question, "what could have happened to prevent such a situation?" Sometimes the answer is NOTHING.
Poor choices affect more people than the choice maker. They affect the children of the choice maker's acquaintances 20-30 years OR MORE later. Bullying. Yes, certain studies show that bullying is on the rise in America's youth, but this issue is deeper friends. There are many aspects and layers of this particular problem that must be evaluated before a remedy, cure, or solution can be presented. And much like many infections in today's society, there is not just one remedy prescribed.
Bullying is the result of insecurity. We know that. A person chooses to focus dominance over another person because they have a lack of confidence in self and a fear of losing power. Bullying often produces more bullying. Students who are the victims will either vindicate themselves upon other helpless victims or carry it into adulthood and behave in such a manner as a grown up. But let's go back to the insecurity. Something has caused a child to feel insecure, therefore provoking them to seek security in other measures. Is there an abusive parent? Is there a missing or absent parent? Is there an older sibling who bullies and is not disciplined by the parents? Is the child participating in an activity that gives them the opportunity to gain confidence? Is the child struggling in school and feels inferior in the classroom, so seeks superiority on the playground? Is the child being raised by someone other than their biological parent? Is the parent neglectful, placing career or pursuit of a partner or addiction ahead of the child? Is the parent enabling the behavior seeking to defend and protect instead of discipline and correct?
Then, you take it another step? Why is this behavior going on in the background of their life? Was their parent neglected? Was their parent abused? Was the parenting they are displaying what was modeled for them? Where did the error begin? Now, please understand. I know that there are some parents who give it their all and still have very challenging children. That is for another day. And again, not every prescription for a cure is the same. BUT, insert the very pivotal statement, I believe there is a cure. Sometimes it will take hard work, but it can be achieved.
Now here is where another parenting faux pas will come into play during the intermission. How are you raising your child to respond to bullying? You see, you experienced it too. Who wasn't the butt of a joke sometime in their childhood? Who wasn't made fun of for fashion choices or for who they associated with or for what their grades were (and yes, even "A" students are made fun of - nerd, geek, dork, brown-noser, brainiac). You witnessed people teased because of their lack of athleticism, their lack of name-brand clothes, their house they live in, their weird siblings, their more-popular siblings, their lack of certain possessions (car, etc.). Having nightmarish flashbacks? Yep, either you were a victim, a bully, or a sideline observer who should have intervened.
What? Intervene? Deep down, each one of us possesses the ability to decipher good and bad. I did not say we all possess the ability to just be good. IT IS A CHOICE. There comes a time in your development when your awareness of this becomes stronger. You have a choice to make regardless of upbringing, of past, of present. You have a choice to start listening to the urge that is pressing your heart. Rise up and defend the victim. Accept the bully and see their brokenness. Yikes! That's like hugging a cactus.
Even in adulthood, I find myself a victim of the choices of others and then within me arises this desire to see them "get what they deserve." Not the best choice, but I can tell you right now that I have felt that more times than once - MUCH more than once. This spirit of vindication swells up within my spirit and then causes sin. Wishing bad things to happen to people is not only mean, it is not healthy. If you spend all of your energy and time trying to right a wrong through vindictive means, than you are not using your time and energy for greater things to further the kingdom. God is the only one capable of judgement and justice. So instead of spending energy to create your version of fairness, petition God to bring His justice and fairness back to this world and to guide you in how you may help.
Model true love. Model true loyalty. Model self-discipline. Model self-respect. Model compassion and understanding. Model hope. Model joy in affliction. Model gratitude. Model endurance.
Be a doormat? NO. Just be cautious in how you respond to those seeking to inflict harm. Be aware when Satan is gaining control of your discernment and judgement. My heart has experienced some great sadness and disappointment, but my hope is in the Lord and I know that He is my redeemer. I know that He is my Savior. I know that He has plans for me to prosper. I will wait on Him and find peace. Not peace in knowing that this "bully" will get what is coming to them, but peace that God is going to deal with them as He sees fit. My ultimate hope is that God will create in them self-awareness so they will eventually cease the behavior they are exhibiting, and instead partner with other believers to further the kingdom.
Are you a bully? Be careful before you answer.