Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Maybe Bullying Ain't All That Bad

Mama knew that she didn't have to worry about me when she watched (from the school library window) as the fourth grade class bully and I faced each other (nose to chest) on the schoolyard. Dad had always taught me that "He who learns to run away lives to fight another day," but standing up to a bully doesn't always mean that a fight will ensue. On that day, I didn't run, no fight broke out, and an important lesson was learned. Did that stop the bullying, no, once the threat of physical violence had been removed, the bully turned to psychological torture.

I learned more lessons over the ensuing two years thanks to this evil child. One lesson was that prayers are not always answered in the way that we want. My desire was that the bully would magically become nice to me. That did not happpen. I wished the bully would go away. That didn't happen. I wanted instant results, and I wanted it my way. That didn't happen. I wound up angry with God.

What did happen was that a small cadre of kids like me started to learn how to turn the bully's words, sneers, and haughty attitude into something of a joke, and at the same time we developed a special comraderie. These outcasts have all seemed to do well in their adult years, and I have to wonder what the all the fuss is about when I hear talk of the long term effects of bullying.

The effects of the bullying revisionists of the Episcopal church may seem painful now, and this might lead us to pray that they just disappear, or we may pray that these bullies see the light of day and return to the Apostolic faith.

I have been praying this, but so far, it hasn't happened.

Maybe we just need bullies.

I also wonder what the long term effects will be if bullies are someday, somehow, eliminated.

Maybe we will become a nation of wusses.

It took many years for me to see that my childhood prayers had been answered. The bully is gone. God did it in His way, in His time. I give Him thanks now, and I am sorry for all the bad things I said about Him in the past.

I have to keep this in mind when dealing with the bullies of today.

I wonder what would have happened if I had run away?


  1. Looking at the rapid decline in ASA, both locally and nationally, it would seem that the most common response to TEC bullying is to turn and run away. There is little interest in fighting another day.

  2. An interesting take, and if you choose to stand and fight, you will have my prayers.

    I wonder, however, whether separating from a congregation or denomination which has chosen a counterbiblical path is the equivalent to "running away." We do have responsibilities to our families to lead them to truth. Were I in a congregation which was taking its own path, I'd be worried that my instruction to my children would be subverted by youth groups, Sunday school teachers and from the pulpit.

    When is the protection of one's spiritual charges more important than making a stand? I don't have the answer. I just don't know.


  3. The numbers would also suggest that parents are more perceptive than TEc leadership thinks. Parents are protecting their kids by voting with their feet.

    The way sexual behaviors are addressed by TEc are a clear indicator that this is not a place for families with young children.

  4. Randall.........

    Having decided to stay and fight, I'll accept your most gracious offer of prayers. I must admit, however, that the role of Cincinnatus at the bridge is wearing thin.

  5. UGP,
    I was a small kid who was bullied by a boy one year ahead of me. School was a lonely time even though I had lots of friends, I still had to pass his house on the way home from school. The last I heard he was in prison. I wish I could say that there was a lesson learned. Perhaps it made me a peacemaker and someone passionate about justice. Of course forgiveness is the answer but the bruising is deep.

  6. Dale,

    When we are dealing with a bully in the here and now, it is likely that we will lose sight of God's purpose and feel abandoned, afraid, and isolated.

    This post was written with the help of the retrospectoscope. It might take years in our time-frame to gain a different perspective from the here and now viewpoint we had earlier.

    The key is that even though things seemed pretty terrible back then, and even though we shook our fists at God, He carried us through.

    From today's Psalm 18:17-19

    17 He delivered me from my strong enemy,
    and from those who hated me;
    for they were too mighty for me.
    18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity;
    but the Lord was my support.
    19 He brought me out into a broad place;
    he delivered me, because he delighted in me.