Praying about bullying
A Christian Science perspective: Ideas on praying for bullies and overcoming bullying.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. As I’ve prayed on the subject of bullying, I’ve come to realize through my own experience that a more spiritual view promotes healing among individuals who are hurting.
I was regularly in contact with someone who was downright disrespectful of me and caused me a great deal of pain over a long period of time. I felt sorry for myself and hopelessly trapped. No matter what tactic I tried to defuse our exchanges, no amount of psychological or humanitarian efforts could improve our situation. It was clear that we needed something beyond human help. I had seemingly nowhere else to turn. So I decided to pray.
It wasn’t until I turned wholeheartedly to God that I found answers. It was in the quiet moments of prayer that I saw for the first time that the individual who was bullying me was the one who was hurting most inside. It seemed so obvious. The lashing out was that person’s own pain and hurt externalized.
Understanding this, I saw that the offensive remarks weren’t personal. Seeing the situation in this way helped me move beyond my own pain. Much of the hurt I was feeling was lifted, and I actually began to feel sorry for the person who was bullying me. I realized how much this person needed to be loved. It appeared to me that the bullying was a desperate cry for help. I soon began to feel a tenderness toward the individual, and, more than anything, I wanted to help. In asking God what I needed to do in my next encounter, a thought came that I should see this anger as being no part of this person and do all I could to be even more loving.
It was familiar advice that came from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. There, he taught his followers, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). This command wasn’t to say that we should let people abuse us. It was a command to see past the hatred in order to heal it. Jesus was asking his followers to love – and not only to love, but to love even more in the face of hate.
The spiritual message of Christ Jesus’ words was illuminated further by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. She wrote, “Wait, and love more for every hate, and fear / No ill, – since God is good, and loss is gain” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 389). As my experience showed, waiting on God in prayer gives us the courage and strength to love more. Mrs. Eddy explains throughout her writings that this is because God, as divine Love, is our true author, and we are the expression of His being. Any sense to the contrary – any hatred, fear, or ill will – is what we need to lose in order to gain the true sense of who we are and let our real, Godlike nature shine through.
It was this sense that brought healing to my next encounter with the individual who had previously been hurting me. We had an encouragingly peaceful exchange, with both of us agreeing that it was nice not to be fighting. It inspired me to love more and to watch my own thinking whenever I found myself upset at others.
Loving more for every hate continues to bring healing to my daily exchanges, and it’s what’s urgently needed in today’s world.