As a parent, we all want to keep our children safe! If we could, we would put them in an impenetrable bubble where no harm could befall them. Unfortunately, that is impossible as pain has a sneaky way of weaseling through our parental barriers and impacting our kid’s hearts without a moment’s notice. One of those wounds that are often inflicted comes by way of bullying. In 2016 according to the National Bullying Prevention Center, one out of every five students report being bullied. That doesn’t include those students who are too afraid to tell anyone!
One of the biggest problems with bullying is that words have the power to burrow deep into the most sensitive, yet hidden parts of the heart. Mean words have the power of persuasion over someone’s self-image. Painful words have the power to tear down every good and perfect truth into a massive mound of rubble. Untrue words have the power to wrap someone up in a choke-hold of shame. Hateful words have the power to destroy hope, joy and belief that life is worth living.
I know that bullying can escalate to physical harm, but I want to focus more on the verbal for now. Sometimes verbal abuse has a longer lasting effect than a simple shove or a punch in the face. It messes with a child’s identity in some of the most influential seasons of their development. It is often a silent and unseen tragedy of a student’s life. Some carry the weight of that shame to their grave because they are too embarrassed to tell anyone. Yet, the impact of it can forge an identity that was never theirs to own.
Now to the good news: The power behind bullying can be silenced in a single breath by the power of the Holy Spirit. We know evil is present but we also know that greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world! Healing, even to the core of our being, can be complete in the hands of our masterful Creator.
As parents, we need to take note of any behavior changes such as isolation, extreme irritation, lack of patience with others, power struggles and a multitude of other expressions that reflect the hidden things of our children’s hearts. We need to be vulnerable and open with them so that they feel safe to be vulnerable and open with us. We need to affirm them daily. We can often be quick to criticize and critique while slow to praise and lift up. We need to tell them out loud that we love them and are so proud of them. We need to hug them and remind them that they are a treasure from God.
You see, words also have power to elevate a child’s identity instilling God’s truth within them. Words of affirmation and edification go a long ways in the ever-changing hearts of our kids. We can’t be with them every second of their life and to date there are no bubbles we can put them in….so, let’s do our part in building them up in truth and love. Let’s keep communication open so that they feel safe to share if they are being bullied. And…if we find out they are, let’s respond in a way that is honoring to the Lord so that they see an example reflecting the image of Christ!
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:4
Dear Lord, my heart really goes out to those kids who have been wounded by the harsh words flowing from the act of bullying. I know personally how difficult it is to overcome the scars left by the arrows of hateful words. I also know that You are able to heal to the very core of our being. I lift up all of our students to You. First, I pray that You reveal if anyone of them has been exposed to the immense pain of bullying. Secondly, I ask that You convict the heart of the one who is the bully! Lord, words have so much power but You have even more so I ask You to bring healing to the hearts of those who need it. I ask that You give the parents eyes to see their children’s hurts and the wisdom on how to help them. Thank You for loving us and giving us Your Word to help guide us in this blessed task of raising kids! Amen.