By Emma Danzey, Crosswalk.com
There was never a more miserable time in my life friendship wise than when I was in middle school. The girls were going through puberty and some were starting to get into things they shouldn’t have even known about at that age. The most difficult part was that in 7th grade, my best friend turned on me and suddenly our entire friend group decided that I was the odd girl out. I never did anything to their standards. They would whisper about me in front of my face. If I wore a hairstyle it was made fun of immediately and heaven help us if I sat at their table at lunch.
I did not understand why the girls were so cruel to me, and honestly to this day, I do not fully understand why. But I know that it was in those pivotal years that God was growing me to trust Him and He was teaching me that He was my best friend who would never let me down.
Everyone encounters bullying to some degree. However, when it is a child in our home or classroom, how do we encourage them? Today we will talk through ways to motivate young people who are under attack not just in person, but unfortunately on social media as well.
1. Speak Life into Them
Kids who are bullied often begin to believe the words spoken over them. Unfortunately, if enough negativity is put into their minds and they believe the words, they are likely to have identity issues.
We can be the ones to speak life into them. When we see a child doing something well, cheer them on. I was not doing well socially in middle school, but I was a great cheerleader and my parents encouraged me in that. It gave me something positive to focus on.
We can also speak not only to actions, but to character.
“You have such great compassion.”
“I love your inner strength.”
“Wow, you are so faithful in all that you do.”
We can help young people see the areas of character they are growing in and spur them on.
Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
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2. Help Them Turn to God
Growing up I used to love the hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” I sang it, but in 7th grade I was able to live it out in a way in which I had never experienced before.
We can point kids to helpful Bible verses to learn and lean on. We can teach them to go to God in prayer with their hurts and their struggles. A friend is someone who we can lean on and go through the good and hard times with in life. We can help them to understand how Christ is always with us and He calls us friend. Some helpful Bible verses include:
John 15:15, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
James 2:23, “And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’—and he was called a friend of God.”
Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
3. We Can Talk through How Jesus Was Bullied
If there was ever a person on the earth who was made fun of and treated improperly, it was Jesus. On the way to the cross He was spit on, mocked, and beaten. However, in the midst of the unkindest around Him, Jesus never sinned. He chose the humiliation to bear our sins so that we could be with Him.
When a child feels that he is the only person in the world who has gone through being cast out or made fun of, we can point him to Jesus Himself. We can also remind them that Jesus was perfect and never did anything wrong, but was picked on. Sometimes kids are bullied for no reason.
Isaiah 53:5, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
Matthew 27:29, “And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’”
Mark 15:20, “After they had mocked Him, they took the purple robe off Him and put His own garments on Him. And they led Him out to crucify Him.”
Luke 22:63, “Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him and beating Him.”
4. We Can Teach Them to Pray for the Bully
Many times, the ones who hurt us have been bullied themselves, or they are insecure. It is helpful to train kids to pray for their enemies and bless those who persecute them.
This does not mean we teach children to allow abuse, but we help them to understand that we represent Christ and we can pray for the hearts of those who hurt us to change. We can recognize and help kids understand that we all make mistakes and have hurt people; we too have been bullies to someone else, whether it be a sibling or another friend.
It is important to help children avoid cultivating bitterness and avoid being judgmental. We want to train them to see others as Jesus does. This means we help them to pray for the bullies and teach them to be loving, and if needed to stand up for themselves by getting help from a trusted adult if they are being wrongly hurt.
Matthew 5:44, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Related: Listen to Our FREE Parenting Podcast!
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Emma Danzey’s mission in life is to inspire young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. Emma is a North Carolina resident and green tea enthusiast! She is married to her husband Drew and they serve international college students. She enjoys singing, dancing, trying new recipes, and watching home makeover shows. During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Currently, she is in the editing stages of her first two writing projects: a Bible study on womanhood and a non-fiction book on singleness. You can visit her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com