Dealing With Bullies

Finding a good way to deal with bullies, and still stay within confines of Christian behavior has been a lifelong struggle for me.  My first inclination is to give back as good as I got, but that would put us both on the same negative level, a hot-head arguing with an imbecile.  Ignoring them opens a person for more abuse.  Gathering a group of supporters leads to gossiping and greater conflict.

Just why, do you think, would cause a person to want to bully someone else?  I’m not sure.  There are probably several answers.  They don’t have a healthy environment at home.  Their personality leads them to want to control others.  They feel insecure and unworthy, so they build up themselves in order to reduce others around them.  Others have disrespected them, and that is their way of defending themselves.  Or, it’s just fun, they think.  The end result is that an encounter with a bully leaves a person shaken and trying to hold on to their own self-esteem.

What does the Bible say about people who disturb our peace?  Some passages are “if someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other cheek,” “if someone forces you to walk a mile in his shoes, then walk two,” “love your enemies,” and a paraphrase “think of others before you think of yourself.”  As I’ve said earlier, this attitude doesn’t come easily for me.  I was raised up in a large family where I had to protect my boundaries.

Jesus had four options for dealing with enemies.  1) He could have joined the Zealots in Holy War, 2) he could have retired to the desert like some holy men did, 3) he could have joined the establishment in the way of the Pharisees, and 4) he could have used a shortcut by using his power to impress people, like jumping off the temple wall.  He knew all these would not lead to eventual peace.  Love is the overruling option for all things.  Conflict leaves guilt, fear, and hate.  Love brings reconciliation.

I’m not there yet.  I try to be.  I understand the principle.  I also know spiritual tools are powerful, and not weak like many in the world belief.  Forgiveness, mercy, patience, love, all those listed in 1 Cor. Chapter 13:4-8.

I have a loved one who tries to control with bullying.  We have a system worked out.  He knows he has just so far he can go before he incurs my wrath, and he enjoys pushing the line hard.  Then I explain the situation clearly, being careful not to bring not-relevant material into the discussion.  He usually storms off and then comes back later as though nothing has happened.  My question is why does he continue to do it?  To check if I’m growing soft, or if he can wear me down? Fat chance.

Most bullying is not on the dangerous level.  I smile when several of my men friends tell me they know just how far to go with their wives.  One told me he was too old to be left alone.  There are some signals that bullying could be dangerous.  Being demanded to quit a job, stay away from friends and family, and only being allowed to go somewhere with the controller are some of these signs.  Don’t let this happen, and if it has, find ways to broaden your friends and contacts.  Get the number of the police and local “abuse” shelter, and hide it where only you can find it. Make a plan if you need to get away.  Being abused is an absolute deal-breaker in a relationship.