Jesus Loves Me

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. While this campaign’s primary focus is to prevent bullying amongst children and adolescents, I think this is a wonderful reminder that bullying in any age group is wrong, and church bullying is the number one reason so many people have been disenfranchised and/or disenchanted with Christianity. Bullying seems to progress with age into the more subtle forms of manipulation and brainwashing in the adult population. Sometimes it takes on more violent forms through abuse of children, marriage, and adult relationships, road rage, and terrorism.

As a child I was bullied severely. My first experience with a bully was in 3rd grade in Gonzales, TX. My family had just moved from a racially inclusive subdivision of Houston to a small town. My best friends in Houston were Methodist, Baptist, Black, White, Female, and Male. Gonzales hopefully has progressed since my childhood, but in the mid-eighties, it was an extremely racially, economically, and denominationally divided town. As a new kid who never had problems making friends, I immediately was called out by a much taller and bigger black girl, Latisha, who wanted to fight me simply because of my skin color. She and her friends waited for me day after day at the crosswalk hoping to beat me up. I would sneak behind the crossing guard as I crossed the street safely to the church preacher house where I lived. My parents coached me to be her friend, and “kill her with kindness.” My parents spoke with the school, and most of the bullying ceased. Latisha and I eventually became friends, and she even hugged me the day I checked out of school in 6th grade to move to Eldorado, TX. Latisha is a survivor of a long heritage of bullying in the name of slavery.

My 2nd bully was waiting in Eldorado. His bullying continues to this day and is a much longer, more painful story, but while some of the bullying took place at school, the vast majority of his taunting, hitting, and kicking took place at church, and various church activities such as camp and Freshman Follies at ACU. I was so incredibly thankful when our school kicked him out in 10th grade and paid for him to go to school in another district. He wasn’t kicked out for bullying by the way…he was caught drinking alcohol on school property. We became friends for a short time in high school, and when I visit my sister, nieces, and nephew, I take advantage of my brother-in-law’s night work schedule, and always plan my visits during the day when he is sleeping. Sometimes we can laugh together, but there are always little comments that still cut to the bone. I just feel sorry for him now. Alcohol addiction from a very early age, and hitting his head multiple times in middle and high school has stunted his maturity in many ways. I pray for him every day. He is a survivor of his own bullies, which isn’t an excuse, but hurting people hurt other people.

My 3rd bully showed up in the form of sexual assault several years ago in Houston. Working at the Impact Houston Church of Christ, I had several routes I drove to pick up children and adults on most days of the week. My Sunday route was named the “Woods Route,” after the children’s last name. I had picked them up for 3-4 years consistently every Sunday, and one Sunday their Mom’s boyfriend came to my side of the van while the kids and his girlfriend were buckling up to go to Sunday Worship, and he reached in and grabbed my breast. I was completely stunned. Even now, the memory is in slow motion. He smirked and made a comment, and then walked back into his dilapidated house. I remember looking at his girlfriend whom I was in Small Group Bible Study with, and she didn’t say a word. We were friends and she didn’t say anything to him. I remember driving back to Impact thinking “why didn’t I say something or stand up for myself?” I was ashamed. The next day I told one of my male co-workers what happened, and also that I would not ever pick up that route again, and he immediately agreed. I don’t know who taught my friends boyfriend that women’s bodies are objects, but I’m sure there’s an incredibly sad reason he thought it was fine to treat me like I was an object.

I read stories online and watch stories on the news about children, teens, and young adults who are bullied, and the only reason we know about these people is because they end their lives. They are struggling with their identity. We all struggle with identity. We search for identity in clothes, fancy cars, big houses, relationships, etc. I believe bullying exists because people don’t know who they truly are in Christ. Since I was a little girl, the song that has reassured me throughout scary situations like bullying is “Jesus Loves Me.” This song was sung over me and written on my heart from the time I existed outside my mother’s womb. I haven’t endured the worse evils this world has to offer, but I know the fact that “Jesus Loves Me” would get me through anything. Preventing bullying takes more than a month of awareness, news stories, and counseling. Preventing bullying may be as simple as loving God and loving your neighbor. The reason we know that Jesus loves us is so we are able to show others that Jesus loves them too. 1 Peter 2:9 delivers this promise and responsibility loud and clear, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” May we be people who proclaim into the darkness of bullying, abuse, and manipulation, “Jesus Loves YOU!”

Other Posts You Might Like:

The F.O.O.D Project – When God Shows Up - Beau Davis

Acts 4 God - Laurie Templeton

Grow Together - Ross Thomson

A Farewell Blessing to Dan Cooke - Laurie Templeton

To Mexico City and Back - Ariana Hernandez



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