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About a year or so ago, a co-worker sent me an article regarding the “Calvin and Hobbes” creators’ take on bullying.

The article hit home with me, reminding me of the times I was picked on, bullied, teased and humiliated mercileslly by other kids. I even had a few cousins who didn’t have a problem with poking and prodding me with their opinions and criticisms about the way I talked, walked, acted or existed.

Bullying did so much damage that it took a long time for me to come to a place of forgiveness and letting go. I take the issue very seriously, but, I learned most recently after reading that article and after further study of the Word of God that my whole view on Bullying, perhaps my “theological” view on Bullying, may have been very, very wrong.

Let me explain…and both apologize.

In the past, I have made comments like, “your bullies will get theirs someday” and “one day you’ll be successful while they are working at McDonalds.”

Junk like that! Yeah, I know. I realize now moreso than ever that victory is NOT found in seeing your bullies fail and fall. That’s not love that God calls us too…at all.

I was wrong and I apologize.

I used to believe that my bullies of the past would one day get theirs and that they would be dealt with.

Truth is, that’s not always the case. They could end up with a change of heart. God may have changed their hearts and minds. Then what? Or, the bullies may not change at all and instead of working in fast-food they could end up being your boss! Then what?

As my Pastor one Sunday was preaching on loving your enemies, the Lord was tugging at my heart, reminding me of my boyhood past that seemed to play over and over in my head and heart. Then, conviction came, the reality that I not only needed to let go of what happened in my past but realize that the victory doesn’t come from the bullies of my past getting what I thought they deserve, but, from victory in Jesus.

Luke 6:27-31 says this:

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”

Luke 6:35 says this:

“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.”

The article I read talked about a kind of moral justification, a kind of desire to be good and not stoop down to the level of the bully. And that’s a good thing to consider. But, for a deeper and lasting and real affect, it has to be more than just desiring to be good. You can’t do it by yourself and by your own kind of moral compass. Your greatest victory is in Christ.

What Would I Tell A Kid Now Dealing With Bullying

I’m still trying to figure this part out! The best advice is to make sure that people know about it. And as a kid, I know this is hard! On the one hand, you want something done about it, but, on the other hand you don’t want it things to go from bad to worse.

I was fortunate that I had a healthy understanding that who I was to God was way more important than what people thought of me. That got damaged during times of bullying, but not totally destroyed.

It’s by His Grace and Mercy I’m able to maintain that mindset even after all of that.

What I have found is that building a network of friends and people who support and love you through it helps.

As a kid going through bullying, I often felt alone in my struggles. No one, especially adults, bothered to step in and try and fix the problem. As kids, it seems like we were left on our own when it came to bullying.

There was no “speak up” or “speak out” or other bullying initiatives. It was the wild west for me and a lot of other kids.

I would say, “sure, self-defense, teach your kid to fight or put them in karate classes,” but that only solves a part of the problem.

The issue of bullying is complex. It is a little more than just “self-defense” but it is also a little more than just teaching children to accept and love one another and appreciate each others’ differences.

As a kid, much like the writer of the article I mentioned earlier said, as a kid you want justice NOW…not later. And that’s hard on the heart of a boy or girl. It’s a harsh lesson of childhood, but, it doesn’t have to end there.

I’m grateful for kids and adults who step up and demand that bullying stop these days. I’m grateful for the fact some kids are a lot stronger and tougher in their resolve and refuse to let themselves be teased or picked on or belittled.

But, I think of the kid like me, who didn’t want to get hurt so they would try to avoid the fight…but…knowing that if they did try to do something and they lost they would come home to punishment.

So, what would I tell a kid now whose being bullied!?

This might not be much to that kid out there, but here goes……………

You matter.

You matter more than you know. Please, don’t forget that you’re important and that you matter. You have purpose in your life. You are valuable!!! I know you’re hurting right now and I know that it sucks that you’re being bullied.

Self-defense is one thing…and you’re probably scared of fighting and getting hurt. But, don’t go it alone. There’s too many people around you that actually do care and will stop at nothing to see you through what you’re going through right now.

Tell your family, tell the school leaders around you, tell your church, tell the world, make it known….you’re loved and you matter!

Things are a little different now than what they used to be, and you don’t have to fight through this alone. If you’re a victim of bullying, say somethings and don’t stop saying something.

If you need to talk it out…if you need to cry…if you need help…you’re not alone. You’re never alone.

Never let anyone try to make you feel less than what you are.

From the Spiritual aspect…to the person whose experienced bullying…know this….

Your greatest victory is not in just being better than your bullying…but not becoming bitter from the bullying. The greatest victory is in Christ…where love will lead you to letting go of bitterness, anger, hatred and vengefulness and will instead lead you to prayer for them and yourself and praise to God.

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Responsibility

March 22, 2017

reonsobilityThis particular message has been in me for several, several days!

“You are responsible for you…no one else…you!”

No one owes you and me anything! Period!

You HAVE to work for it. You HAVE to trust and believe that you have been created and called into something bigger than you…that you are here for a purpose that’s larger.

I believe…again, I personally…that God has called me into something so much larger than myself.

As a Christian, I am responsible for how I behave in front of people and for the message of the Gospel to be shared.

As a writer, I’m responsible for telling a story.

As an artist, I’m responsible for conveying a message that people can grasp and understand!

As a man, I’m responsible for taking care of business and operating in love for my significant other and for my fellow man. Even then, that’s not ALL the responsibilities I have as just a man!

We ALL have responsibilities!

But, there are many who choose to not take on the burdens of living and growing up. There are many who choose to not take responsibility for their actions.

It’s MUCH easier to blame everyone else…to make excuses….to declare that somehow you are being held back and nothing good can happen for you and to you.

But, it’s harder to take responsibility.

It’s a challenge to take responsibility and own up to your mistakes…the consequences seem to be higher the more you take on responsibility.

But, sooner or later, if you really, really want more out of life, you have to take on responsibilities and carry the weight of that experience.

The good news is you don’t have to carry that weight alone!

 

Free To Speak

March 17, 2017 — 3 Comments

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On a Friday morning I had a chance to go to the barbershop while I was out of town in Oklahoma City.

You know the experience especially if you’ve ever ventured into a predominantly black barbershop. Their’s that familiar sound of electric clippers humming in the background, boisterous conversations over the current affairs of the day and sometimes you get a hint of background noise from the TV or radio.

I normally don’t go to the barbershop, but this time, I had a chance to experience this very familiar moment once again. The discussion between the barbers and the people in the shop turned from who was the best quarterback in football to the president and the congress and finally to race and culture.

As I sat there, I quietly listened. It reminded me of the times I was a little boy. I would sit and listen to this adults go back and forth until they were blue in the face. But then it hit me…I am free to speak now! I actually have a voice! I am an adult with the privilege to share my views and analysis.

One gentlemen said a few things I both agreed and disagreed with. I listened intently to the man’s take on race, prejudice, life, women, politics and much more. My arms and legs were crossed and my eyes slowly wandered as to avoid staring.

As I was getting my haircut, I felt this deep, bottom of my stomach urge to speak up. I really, really, didn’t want too. Seriously, I didn’t!

I mean, what could I possibly contribute to this conversation? What would happen if I did say something? Who would care? Why would it matter? Who on earth needs to even hear it? I don’t have the background, experience or anything to back up what comes out?

The conversation was finally over! I realized I just about lost my opportunity to speak up. I felt like such a loser at that moment. A really deep part of me demanded to speak out and I kept silent.

But just as I was about to give up, the conversation started back up.

I added my two cents! A consensus was made with a very understandable group of men who heard what I had to say. In fact, they even demanded more depth from me, which I might add was pretty cool! Here I am, a young guy being asked to expand on my analysis in front of men who were several years older than me.

Deep down, this very real, masculine, powerful and vocal part of me wanted to speak out and I almost missed out.

Why!? Because we short change ourselves! We doubt if we really have what it takes. We doubt if we could make a difference. We sit back and allow things to unfold and cower in the back.

The experience at the barbershop moved me from being the boy who sat back and watched to a real man with real perspective and real insight.

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I have a confession to make! Sometimes, I get concerned about what I should or should not say or what I should and should not write.

So, sometimes I say nothing. Absolutely nothing. Oh sure, I have my moments, but, for the longest time, I didn’t say or do anything on the grounds that it could cost me.

I could end up in a confrontation that I’m just not wanting to start.

I may make people who are “religious” angry and people who are not excited.

Or I could make “religious” people happy and people who are not very angry.

I could make the person of another political view happy and the other angry. And vice versa.

Or…people may think I’m weird and different or they may not like me.

WHO….CARES!!?

I have come to find out that not doing something that you have truly been called and purposed to do only to declare fear or worry is lacking faith. And, by the way, it robs other people of what you have to help them.

Playing it safe is something that I’m sure came from my childhood.

In the past, I was told certain stories I wrote were not good. I was told that the ministry I wanted to start using comics and cartoons would not work. I was told that adults didn’t watch cartoons or read comic books. I was told that writing wasn’t a reasonable profession.

I’m glad I ignored such ridiculous thoughts. It sounds like these individuals were actually afraid for their own lives and only wished to see me fail so their point can be proven.

I did my best to avoid getting into fights at school. I kept to my own world. I tried to keep the peace at all costs. But years later, I realized that being “nice” was not enough. It was never meant to be. I had to learn to grow out of playing it safe. I had to learn to take risks and…yes…step out on faith.

My challenge to us all is to take risks that open us up to a much larger story than the ones we try to craft on our own.