5.24.2012

Bully Pulpit

Bullying has been in the news a lot lately, between a critically acclaimed film, the Rutgers webcam court case, and Mitt Romney's high school cruelty.  Many of us have experienced being bullied, and while it is scary and hurtful, it is not hard to understand and accept the power of God's love in those moments.  One friend of mine who was constantly harassed in his childhood told me he clung to Psalm 18 during those incidents - especially verses 6-7 ("In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears. Then the earth shook and quaked; and the foundations of the mountains were trembling and were shaken, because He was angry.") - and it comforted him that God was not distant but was rather riled up by the thought of one of His beloved children being harmed.  


But what's the word for the bullier?  It's hard to admit when we've been on the bullying side, but I must confess I have had more such episodes that I can count.  I'm not even talking about times when I was mean for the sake of my own self-interest, or mean because I was ignorant and didn't know any better.  I'm talking about times when I was mean simply for the sake being mean, mean for the sake of cruelly and sadistically wielding power over another.  When I think of those times, I cringe with the cringe of one who has done unforgivably bad, from which the stain does not easily dissipate.  


God has a word for the bullier, as well.  Two words, actually.  When we are repentant, He forgives.  And, sometimes, even before we have repented, He chases us down with His love, and His love breaks us down.  In the first case, God gets the glory because we are acknowledging that His is the standard, and we have fallen short; and, He gets the glory because cleansing and reconciliation is by His mercy and not by any penance we do.  In the second, God gets the glory as well, because it demonstrates that His love is not boxed in by what we have or have not done, but freely roams the earth to overcome us bad people with goodness we soon realize we don't deserve.


I don't know how much bullying or being bullied you've gone through in your life, but I suspect it's at least a little of one, if not a lot of both like me.  For you, for me, for all of us, God has a word, and it is a cleansing, relieving, and wonderful word.  May we hear it, receive it, and speak it to so many others around us who have bullied or been bullied.  


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