#bullies #tickandstones #attitudeofchrist

Bullying: Sticks And Stones Crush our Hearts

School Time Troubles

It’s time to send our children off to school. And we all know that going to school can be pretty stressful; not just due to studies, but also peer pressure and social stresses. I thought this would be a good time to talk about how to help our children deal with bullies.

These days we hear so much about bullying, so much that it seems we are majoring on the wrong-doer and maybe we are not teaching our children how to deal with bullying when it happens. I don’t mean to make light of bullying, because certainly, I have been on the receiving end of it myself, as a child and as a mother having to comfort my children.

Bullying can crush our hearts. Bullying is not an acceptable way to act and often someone needs to step in and intervene. But how can we help our children through these times? Running straight to the principal may not be your best option, at least not your first option.

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Preparing Our Children to Deal with Bullies

What we must teach our children is that in this sinful world, bullying will always be out there. As Christians, we’re given that promise…

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…. If they persecuted Me they will persecute you… for they do not know the One who sent Me.”

John 15:19-21

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

That promise is a bit harder to claim in comparison to the ones we choose to claim, isn’t it?

Along with the promise that “we will have troubles” we should remind our children that God always goes with us through whatever we may face. Talk about men and women in the Bible that face dire circumstances but God walked with them through it all. Just a few to start with are Joseph, David, Daniel, the Hebrew children, and Jesus, himself. Introduce and help them memorize verses like this one from Isaiah 43

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
    O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

First, When Your Child is Bullied with Words, Ask This

1. Is there any truth in what the person said?

I’m reminded of an episode of Little House on the Prairie. Laura had been in an altercation with Nelly ‘again’. Upset that Nelly had called her father a smelly farmer, she finally told her father. Charles asked Laura, “Well, it is true, right?” Then he explained why he smelled like a barn and sweat. Because he worked hard and that was something to be proud of.

a. Become Better, Not Bitter

If there is truth in what was said, then we should correct what can be corrected. Use the situation as a tool to improve ourselves. Let it make you better, NOT Bitter. Just as a test shows us what we haven’t yet mastered, our trials show us areas in our life that need improving. Yes, criticism is hard to accept, but it can make us a better person if we allow it too. 1 Peter 1:6-7 instructs us …

” So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold-though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

In the Little House episode, Charles can’t help it that he gets smelly while he works. He can try to improve by bathing or changing clothes when he goes to town but even that may not be practical. So he needs to be proud that he has a job and that he is a hard worker.

Focus on the good stuff. Don’t dwell on the negative thoughts that were expressed. Make a list of all your good qualities. Review them over and over in your mind. Remind yourself that you are not defined by that one negative aspect in your life. This is not so that you can downgrade the bully by telling him you are better than him. This is self-talk to remind yourself that God made you

Secondly, Whether there is Truth or Not

A. Be Encouraged

If there is no truth, Be encouraged! because we know that through our struggles and weaknesses, we are strong in Christ.

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
—2 Corinthians 12:10

B. Forgive and Forget

– Again we must forgive and forget. Think of the times that Jesus was wrongly accused, even on the cross He said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do“. ( Luke 23:34 ) And later in Acts 7:54-60, we see that Stephen, forgave his persecutors even as they stoned him to death. So shouldn’t we do likewise? Aren’t we taught in the Bible to forgive as we are forgiven? Ephesians 4:32–5:2. Our actions show others how much Christ loves them.

C. Respond in Love

– We must respond in love. Remember that the bully probably does not yet know Christ. We need to show them the love and mercy of Christ by how we react to them. Remember, that we are the only Jesus some people will ever see. Responding in love will also, many times, dumbfound your accuser because they will be expecting you to hurl insults back at them. When we react with love and mercy, it will many times silence them.

Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

Psalm 8:2

I recall a time in my life when I was first out on my own. I didn’t have laundry equipment and had to take my clothes to a laundromat. Finding a dryer with time left on it, I placed my laundry into the empty dryer.

I was later folding these clothes, a woman came into the laundromat and began accusing me of stealing her clothes from the dryer. I replied that there had been no clothes in the dryer and that she was welcome to go through my stacks of clothing to find anything that might be hers. She continued to accuse and yell, backing me up against the dryers and hitting me in the face. But when I would not retaliate, she finally, gave up and walked out.

It turned out that this situation for me became a blessing in disguise. When my church family heard the story, a lady came to me and said, “You will no longer have to go to a laundromat. Bring your dirty clothes to my house every Monday and I will wash them for you.” She not only washed them but made any repairs needed as well!

D. Pray for your Accuser / Abuser

Be a Prayer Warrior. We must Pray for our Accuser. 

“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you

Matthew 5:44

There is usually a reason someone lashes out at us. They may have a bad situation at home, they may be grieving a loss, they may be jealous of you, they may be under conviction of the Holy Spirit. Look for these things and pray for them.

Then look for ways that you can reach out to them as a friend. Find out what their interests are and give a gift or strike up a conversation about their interests. Be a friend.

See if you can find out why they want to lash out. You might be amazed at the results. I’ve heard of “enemies becoming dear friends” because one of them reached out in love.

E. Remember God is With You

Be Encouraged… God is with you and God will be glorified!

Our true purpose on earth is to glorify God. There are times when our trials can bring glory to Him because of the way we react. Others will see Jesus in us when we respond as Jesus would.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

2 Corinthians 4: 8-11

F. Endurance Brings Reward

Be Encouraged .. You will be rewarded!

We can be encouraged when insulted or persecuted because our reward in heaven will be great.

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11″Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12″Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12
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Additionally, Here Are A Few Ways to Prepare Your Children in Advance for Bullies

The temptation is to encircle our children and prevent any harm from coming to them; however, this may only make things worse. Our children need to learn to stand up for themselves and to resolve conflict on their own.

They don’t need Mommy running to their defense all the time. This makes them feel and seem helpless. It could also cause them more harm because a bully is likely to retaliate when their mischief is reported.

Rather parents should prepare their children for troubled times by discussing real-life situations and Biblical accounts that reveal how to respond when troubles come.

1. Study the Scriptures Together

1 Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.
2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.
3 They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.

Psalm 119

Each morning before you send them to school, read the scriptures together. This doesn’t need to be lengthy and drawn out. Read the scripture and talk about what it means in our own lives. Just one or two verses could do the trick. Here are a few places to start.

  • The Proverbs – Proverbs discusses character and lends itself to discussion. Plus Proverbs has 31 chapters. Chose a verse or two for the chapter that correlates to the day of the month. Read chapter 1 on day 1
  • Bible Story Book – There are many storybooks available. I like Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping The Greatest Gift. While this is an Advent book, it can easily be used throughout the year. It begins with Adam and Eve and relates each lesson to the genealogy of Christ. Talk about the character of each man or woman. How did they respond to adversity? How can we relate that to our situation?
  • Sunday School Take-Home Papers – Some Sunday School curriculum comes with take-home papers that give scriptures to read at home during the week. This would be advantageous because it will correlate with what they are learning in Sunday School.
  • Look for More Ideas in Gladys Hunt’s Honey for a Child’s Heart and Honey for a Teen’s Heart.
Regular Family Bible Study Makes for School Success. #schooltime #studies Click To Tweet

2. Memorize Scriptures Together

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Joshua 1:8

I cannot emphasize enough on the importance of scripture memory. If you want to be encouraged by the Lord throughout the day, memorize scripture. It’s the only way God can bring it to mind in the middle of your trouble. Here are a few ways to help your children memorize.

  • Start with Sunday School Materials. That aforementioned S.S. paper has a memory verse on it. learn it together as a family. Write it out and put it on the refrigerator. Recite it aloud every time you go through the kitchen. Ask each other, “What is this week’s verse?” (NOTE: I’m not averse to giving awards for scripture memory)
  • Make little verse cards that fit into your pockets. Then review it all day long. It will surprise you how quickly you learn.
  • Memory Apps – I enjoy Scripture Typer which is available online, or on your phone or kindle. It keeps track of what you are learning, helps you review, and you can add your own scriptures in your preferred version.

As an added bonus, did you realize that the more you use your brain, the better it works? My cousin, now a surgeon, wondered how in the world he would learn and memorize all he needed while in medical school. His father told him, “Memorize Scripture”.

What?

More memory work?

Yes! It works too!

The more you use your brain the better it works! #scripturememory #successinlife Click To Tweet

3. Pray Together

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Matthew 18:20

We never let our children set foot on the school campus before praying together. The old adage says that a family that prays together stays together. I think more than staying together, you become one. It creates a bond not easily broken. This bond is a force that reminds us that we are not alone. Our child will know that you are cheering for him and also that God is fighting for him.

Prayer has a way of helping us see things from one another’s points of view. Hearing another pray causes us to feel his pain. It also helps us celebrate big wins that might otherwise go unnoticed. It’s also training for adulthood when they may be asked to pray in public.

Praying Together Creates a Team Bond. #praytogether #bondingtogether Click To Tweet

I hope that this will be a help for you as it was for me and my family.

May God bless you.

Mandy Farmer

Do you have other suggestions that you implement with your family? Share with us in the comments.

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4 thoughts on “Bullying: Sticks And Stones Crush our Hearts

  1. BettieG says:

    Yes, it’s so important to prepare our children to be able to deal with bullying, the way that Jesus reveals to us in Scripture. He spoke the truth, letting us know that we would face trials & hardships. But He let us know that we are not alone in those places. And just as we continue to learn that, our children need to learn that too. Thank you for addressing current issues! Blessings!

  2. Anita Ojeda says:

    Great advice, Mandy! I’ll be using this with my small group at school–we’re working to help our students learn how to handle bullying and have better relationships with each other.

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