I'm giving a big ol' shout-out today to these Tribelet members for sharing their stories about bullies who are (supposedly!) Christians:
NIMI ALYSSA SIERRA HADASSAH LEAH WENDY
They told us about:
* boys who only act like they yearn for God around the grown-ups and then laugh at them behind their backs
* best friends at church who play the "Just Kidding" card too often
* bullies who are your CFFs!
* girls in youth group excluding other girls
* people in Sunday school classes who say rude things right to your face
* kids who spread rumors ... at CHURCH
* bullies in Christian schools who just laugh when you ask them to stop
SARAH piped up and said she's never seen any Christian bullies, and that gives us hope that (a) somewhere there's a church family that's bully-free and (b) we might be able to get there too.
One of the things I loved in your comments was when LEAH said she told the kids involved in bullying at her church about what we've been talking about here on the blog. That IS what After School Wednesdays are about -- giving you information to help you with bullying in your own life AND that you can share with other people who just don't know what to do.
So let's talk about how to approach the issue of bullying when it happens among CHRISTIANS. Jesus gives us detailed instructions. Seriously, he does.
In Matthew 18: 15-17 he outlines it for us. We'll look at the first Step today and the rest in the weeks that follow. Does that sound like a plan?
Step One: "If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone." (verse 15)
There are two parts to that.
(1) Point out the fault
(2) When the two of you are alone
Let's take (2) first. Here's the deal with bullies, especially boys (absurd little creeps that they are at this age). They give you a hard time so they can show off to the other boys. For some reason that no one understands, it makes them feel important if other guys see them put people down. Like THAT"s something to be proud of ... Anyway, that's what's going on.
So it only makes sense that if the guy who bullies (or the girl) does it to show how powerful he (or she) is in front of other people, why do it if there's nobody else around? Without his minions to laugh and go, "You're so cool," what's the point?
What does makes sense is that if you confront a bully when his buddies aren't with him, he has nobody to show off for. You MIGHT have a better chance of being heard.
There are two exceptions to that:
1. If you feel like the bully might hurt you physically, do not get yourself into a situation where you are alone with that person. In fact, if you have reason to believe this bully-person is going to hurt you, skip all these steps and go right to a grown-up. This is the time for a Report Alert.
2. You can take a friend with you when you confront this bully, as long as that friend isn't involved in what's going on between you and Mean Girl or Boy. You're the one taking back the power to be yourself, so that person with you shouldn't speak. It's just nice to have the support, and good to have a witness.
Also, "alone" doesn't mean in a closet or a dark corner or something! It means no one else is part of the conversation. Some grown-ups within shouting distance are actually a nice touch.
Now, back to (1) point out the fault. Remember that you are "declaring war" on bullying, not on the bully himself .... much as you would LIKE to flush him down the toilet. You're there to say what this person has done that bugs you, not to attack him or her personally. Some examples might help.
Don't Say: You are such a jerk for picking on me. I hate you!
Do Say: I have a real problem with you saying rude stuff to me and I want you to knock it off.
Don't Say: You're just a mean, stupid pig!
Do Say: I don't know why you think you have to make fun of me . I know you're better than that.
If you attack the person, he's going to fight back. If you attack what he's done or said, that can't fight back.
Of course, don't forget the very first Code Card we ever talked about here: Save the Tears. If you're hurt and upset by the way things go when you face the bully, save the tears until you can get away and cry by yourself or with a friend. DO NOT let that bullying kid see that he's gotten to you, or all bets are off. Show him that you're strong. Strong enough to take back the power to be yourself.
We'll talk about the next Step Jesus gives us for how to deal with Bullying Christians next Wednesday. For now, share with us how you might use that with the BCs in your life. If you try it and it works, definitely tell us. We want to hear your plan AND your results.
You can do this. Jesus says you can.