Face to Face with a Grown-Up Bully

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As I prepare to write this post, I looked back on my childhood and I’m happy to say that I had a happy childhood. I couldn’t remember any friend, classmate or schoolmate being mean to me, grabbed my lunch or made fun of me. Come to think of it, I was blessed to be surrounded then by good-natured friends. But as an adult, people have also grown and were not so good anymore.

Bullying has been defined as “an unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.”

Stop Bullying   enumerates other forms of bullying our kids or even adults experience today. As parents, it’s good to be educated in this alarming rise in childhood violence that diminishes our kids’ confidence.

bullying

As I read through the different forms cited, I realized that I fell victim to one social bully. Social bullying, which I call silent bullying, involves intentionally hurting the reputation of another in public through gossiping, ignoring or leaving someone out on purpose in conversations or social gatherings.

My first encounter with Mr. Bully was years ago. It was a casual introduction by a close friend of mine who happened to be Mr. Bully’s close kin. He was described as “difficult to deal with” and having a “godlike ego” but I shrugged them off. He was in fact, very pleasant during that first meeting. I met him again for the second time and he was consistently cordial towards me. But I sensed something was off the second time.

In a party not too long ago,  Mr. Bully was a guest. I realized we moved in the same circle so we would see each other often. There were longer conversations with Mr. Bully along with other guests and laughter filled the air that evening. Again, we don’t have an established relationship. The only connection I have with this fellow is through his family member.  But before the evening ended, there was harshness in his tone and his words. The jokes directed towards me were no longer funny. I felt slightly ridiculed by Mr. Bully over some petty thing.  As we drove home, I felt embarrassed but then again I told myself maybe I’m being too sensitive. Maybe he didn’t intend to put me on the spot at all. So I let go of the thought and didn’t make a big deal out of it. .

Last month, a couple of friends got together for dinner and I had to face Mr. Bully again.  This time, his side comments and his demeanor became more offensive to me. At some instances, I would strike back with a half-meant joke because I felt he was picking on me for some reason. The old self is dying to lash back at him and humiliate him but that won’t be a Godly response.

There was a moment when I was left alone at the table with Mr. Bully and another person. He completely ignored me and he engaged this other person so enthusiastically whom he met only for the second time. That whole night, he never spoke to me nor my husband unless we would initiate the conversation. He kept engaging the other people in the group except us.

I kept internalizing what transpired that evening and then made shallow hypotheses:

He was mean to me because I am a Christian. He was mean because I am standing for my faith. I know for a fact that he does not completely agree with what the Bible says and God’s Word being the final authority over all matters of life.  Because of my faith, He thinks I am a bad influence to his close kin, which I am not in any way.

He was mean to me simply because Mr. Bully has already MADE IT. He is on top of the world. He can have anything he wants. He can travel all over the world while I have nothing to show. I have no material possession to showcase. He spoke in millions and hundred thousands while my lingo is hundreds and thousands only.

But after making these assumptions, I realized I was also being mean to my so-called tormentor. I realized that I have allowed pride to take control of my heart and judged him unfairly. I too was turning into what Mr. Bully is, a bully myself. I needed to change my perspective about him but I tell you it is difficult. Since I cannot reach out to him, I would just pray for him sincerely and allow God to work in his life. And that this heart transformation would impact his life and his family.

I forgave him. In fact, his treatment of me made me think of how I treat others too. His meanness made me look more intently at how I speak and how I relate with others. I am not the perfect person, I have a TON of flaws too but this bullying episode allowed me to meditate on this verse,

19 For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. 20 My old self has been crucified with Christ.[a] It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:19-20

If I say I am a follower of Christ then my words should match my walk. My words and actions should point to Him always. This is not easy. But God, in his grace, gives us everything we need in order to walk in light with Him. Paul says in Galatians 5: 16-17 16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”

Have you ever bullied or been treated unkindly by others? How did you respond and what did you learn from that experience? Let’s share in the comments section.