October is national bullying awareness month. I have lived through multiple experiences of being bullied but at least this time I’m not going to write about them, at least not directly.
I feel that many times when the topic of bullying awareness is brought up we talk about our experiences and how we overcame them. We tell students to “talk to an adult” about what’s going on, and tell victims of bullying that what they are going through is not a reflection upon their self worth. It seems as if one of the most important part of bullying awareness is rarely talked about – forgiveness!
Forgiveness is simple but yet complex. As a victim of bullying, I was never able to fully heal from my experiences until I learned and started practicing this. I have found out the hard way that not forgiving the mean girls did absolutely nothing positive for me, but instead gave them more power over me. Their actions in the past was affecting how I was moving forward into my future.
I did not become angry as some do when they withhold forgiveness, but had guilt about holding onto a grudge. Within this time, the past and current actions of my peers who were bullying me, seemed to hurt more and more everyday. The following summer when I had no contact with these individuals, the pain of not forgiving them continued to grow. Even when I wasn’t around the bullying, I was giving power to the mean girls over me by not forgiving them. I was giving them the response that they wanted me to have.
It took time to fully forgive those who have hurt me. Honestly, I am still forgiving some. You may be thinking, “forgiving is good but what my bullies did to me was so bad I’m not sure if I can do it. Not everything is forgivable.” I have believed this lie and have taken this to heart.
I tend to subconsciously think that Christ died just for those who are morally good. The truth is – He didn’t. He died for Hitler, Queen Mary the first, that family member that I have a broken relationship with, my best friend that I love dearly, my friends, myself, AND those who have hurt me! If He can forgive all of those individual sins, then what is stopping me from forgiving the mean girls? Selfishly I think, if I can’t forgive my enemies how could God ever forgive me? I’m really not any different from them.
Forgiving is not admitting that what your enemy did to you was okay, or that it did not hurt. It is simply not holding on to their actions anymore. You are not obligated to become friends with them and does not give the other person permission to repeat their actions.
Forgiving is being in physical chains but having access to the key. The longer you wait to come out of the chains, they become heavier on your body and soul. The person who locked you in the chains does not feel the affect of the weight upon your body the way you do. When you find the courage to pick up the key and take the chains off, your body is instantly relieved.
Forgiving those who bully you does not guarantee that you will no longer be hurt by them. Holding a grudge will absolutely do no good to you. Most likely the one who is personally bullying you has been through the same thing themselves and takes the pain that they have and uses it to hurt others. Those who have been hurt, tend to hurt others. As a part of bullying awareness, we need to talk about the power of forgiving the bullies because if we don’t forgive them, even if they did not seek forgiveness, what does that show about your character?
If you want to forgive the bully and you are not quite sure where to start here are a few pointers.
- Start praying for your enemy.
- Try to find a postive trait about them.
- Start to compliment them. This will start to change your perspective of them.
- Remember that God forgives them.
Forgiving does not have to happen overnight, but if you want change your emotional self, it does have to happen.
“It’s as sweet as walking into a candy store.”