I’ve been sitting on a message for a couple of weeks. Like shooting stars, thought snippets invade my space. Words like: love anyway; love the unlovable; go deeper; repurpose. And, then the title showed up: Let the Bully Go!
Have you ever lived through a season of challenges? Of course, you have. We are living in the year 2020 – nothing but challenges. Our stress tank is on overload and as a result, our tolerance for nonsense has been greatly diminished. We’ve witnessed great kindness in the early stages of the pandemic. Heartwarming human-interest stories were shared globally – but not as much lately. Instead much of the media seems to be focused on spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
As I think about the civil unrest, our politically divided country, and all the election hate ads, my heart breaks and anger also rises within me, “Who are you and what did you do with my country?” Accustomed to taking ownership for my circumstance, I struggle to find a foothold – to identify some action I can take that would improve what I see happening. Adulting is sometimes more than I can handle, and my inner child wants to just cry out, “You are all just being mean! I’m not playing anymore. You’re just a bully and I’m telling.”
Do you remember running to that special adult (for me it was always my Dad) with your tear-stained face, hiccupping through your sorrow, attempting but failing to form a complete sentence. My Papi would hug me and let me cry it all out – all the while trying to make me laugh with his silly booger jokes. He didn’t always solve the problem for me. I loved it when he did, however. Oh yeah! My Daddy took care of business. Sometimes, if it had to do with someone hurting my feelings, he would say, “What can we do? We just have to love them.”
Challenges keep coming don’t they? Our personal lives are not on hold while we wait for the world to settle down. May I share a story (one of many in the last few weeks)?
We moved into a new community in April – yes, in the middle of the pandemic we sold and purchased a home. Not six weeks into the move an overzealous Homeowners Association board member decides he doesn’t like a decorative fence in our yard and starts referring us to the HOA documents. Tear it down, he says. What? The fence was there when we bought our home; we aren’t even totally unpacked!
My husband (the calm one in our family) engages in a correspondence exchange – stating the facts and hoping to reason with this person, but to no avail. After several attempts, we both prayerfully (lots of prayer) arrived at the same place, “That’s it. We’re telling!” We may not be able to influence the pandemic, the riots, or the political unrest but by golly – we can stand up for our rights as homeowners and seek legal counsel.
We Just Have to Love Them
Bully’s appear to be coming out of the woodwork. Have you been experiencing that as well? With stress tanks on overload, some folks are just acting out irrationally.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could turn on the news and hear them say, “This was just a test – only a test.”
Perhaps it is a test. God wastes nothing. His Word says in Romans 8:28, “And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.”
I’ve heard it said that God brings us the unlovable to teach us how to love. Let’s be real. There are times when we just don’t want to love that person who is showing up as a bully in our lives. But God, He says, Love never fails. Look it up. It’s in His Word.
God once reminded me that this person who was on my last nerve (I was telling on her) – well, her picture was on His refrigerator. What? We just have to love them.
Experience has taught me to pay close attention when challenges show up. I’ve learned to ask the question, Lord – what would you like me to learn from all this? We can ask for direction, next steps and when bitterness and resentment start to show up in our heart – we can ask for forgiveness.
Let the Bully Go
2 Chron 20:12 says, “O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless against this great multitude which is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”
With regard to our HOA and the issue of the decorative fence, we made a case for why we are right under the law. We prayed. God answered. We’ve done our part and now we wait. It’s not for us to judge the board member (tempting as that might be). As my Dad would say, we just have to love him.
Let’s not forget our own internal bully – that critical voice in our head that is sometimes very unkind to us. With all this time in isolation – all the changes we’ve experienced – there’s a risk that our thoughts just don’t encourage and support us. Love anyway and let the Bully go.
Photo by Kat J