Bullying. What an ugly word. For many students, this is a very real problem. We hear about it in the media, on every social media platform, and in school assemblies. We learn about what it could look like, how it could affect others, and what to do when you witness it happening. But what does it mean for the Christian student? What should we do when we experience it?
I was in 7th grade when I first remembered the bullying getting pretty ugly. It started with name-calling and teasing. It started with a young man. But as these things tend to do, it grew to include many of my peers, guys and girls. It grew to included name-calling, teasing, waiting for me in between classes to follow me to continue the torment, and it included throwing paper wads, ice, and eventually small rocks at me.
By the spring of my sophomore year, I had enough. I reached out to a teacher to assist in getting them to back off during class, and I finally told my parents what was happening. I'm not sure what happened, but after my dad talked to the parents of the main young man, I never had any problems after that. It stopped so suddenly, that I was caught off-guard and overjoyed to be done with that emotional and ugly war.
What helped me last four years with an emotional battle after an emotional battle with my peers? How in the world did I emerge from this bruised, but not defeated; aching but not destroyed?
Prayer. Yep, I did my battling in prayer. In Ephesians 6:10-18a, Paul encourages the Christian believers to fight their battles a completely different way then they had ever known before.
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication." - Eph. 6:10-18a (ESV)
I decided that, as hard as this was, I was going to pray for my "enemies." Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." - Matthew 5:44 (ESV)
I begrudgingly started praying that this young man would know the love of Jesus as I did. To my utter amazement, my love for this person went from nonexistent to overwhelming. I looked at him as a person who obviously was hurting from some terrible things that were going on for him at home, and I genuinely wanted him to experience peace and joy.
If you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you know exactly what I am talking about. There is this incredibly deep and rich love that only comes from a supernatural source. God allowed me to start seeing these peers of mine as loved and lost people that He sent His Son to die for...just like me.
1 Simple Rule
So what is the simple rule for loving your classmates? Pray. Pray hard for them. Pray consistently for them. Pray authentically for them.
Then watch as your Heavenly Father, maybe over time, does for you what my earthly dad did for me. He'll fight the big battles you are not strong enough to fight. He'll love fiercely when you have nothing left to give. He'll always win the war you invite Him to fight for you. All you have to do is put on His armor and stand.