I have to admit, with great regret, I was a bully. I can recall to this day the idiocy I was engaged in. To those I bullied, I am so sorry. Unfortunately nothing can take away the cruelty of my own actions. Of all the things in my life I could change, this would be among the top. In my own life, I think this was a way to seek out recognition, to seek out love, I didn’t know what I was doing, my mind had been polluted, but despite that, on my own part, how stupid!
I don’t need much to remind me of my nightmares regarding bullying others; it was in my relationship with Jesus I recognized my own need of help in this area. In my late teens I was speaking at University Parkway Baptist Church in Johnson City Tennessee. I was sharing my story, when I see a guy I used to bully when I attended University High School. My heart broke; my mind realized the harm I had done. ‘Oh God forgive me,’ was the first thing that came to mind. He left before I could tell him I was sorry, I have yet to see him again to my knowledge, and now, some 30+ years sorry, I want to tell him, and others, I am so sorry. I am not the same person I once was, I am a new creature, but the memories haunt me of how unkind I was, of the hurt I perpetuated on others. I think it is one of the reasons I am so driven to try to make up for the horrors I perpetuated on others. I know that nothing I can do will do that, but I can’t help but try. I know my God has forgiven me but I can’t help but remember I am driven to address issues like this.
There are other ways I address this memory, I am an advocate for the abused, not just the sexual, but also the physical. I have stopped and intervened many times to help a woman getting beaten on the side of the road with a tire iron, a lady at the beach being beaten by her lover, or even a child being abused at a local department store or another at a movie theater. I speak up now, I stand up, and I run the risk of someday having this older body attacked by one of those I confront. I have said for many years, I suspect this could be one of the ways I meet God, standing up, speaking out, and intervening when one has to. The lady who was getting beaten by a tire iron, I could have just called the police, I could have waited for them to get there, to likely arrest the man who had murdered her, but she needed help, and she needed it then.
I only have to turn on the television, and look at the news to see this epidemic. Another student has committed suicide, another friend is reminded of his own bullying, his own abuse. ‘Oh God, send your love, let us who walk this earth learn to love.’ I pray that, I hope that, I know it won’t erase the memories through.
Now don’t take me wrong, I’m not trying to beat myself up, I’m not wallowing in pity, but I wonder, should I? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question, all I know is I have to do all I can to correct my own behaviors, yet I know that as much as I try, there are those whom I have hurt that I can’t change. The best I can hope for is that those who are like I was can hear what I say. I hope you will change your behavior. I know this; my relationship with Jesus is the ultimate change that occurred in me. I am a better person; I can’t comprehend ever doing what I used to do again. I can’t comprehend not standing up and speaking out against this behavior.
I wish I could say I’m sorry to each and every person I hurt. I wish I could go back and change my actions. I can’t, I can say to my friends like Rush, I’m so sorry, please forgive me. I can’t change what happened, but I will say; I will do my best to be a voice against bullying. I hope you can still love me, still respect me with the love only God can give. I wish all of those who have hurt you would know what I know, know of the pain they have caused to an unbelievable person created in the image of God.
In closing, here is a piece of advice, our actions, and our lack of actions has impact. It is time we learned to love and respect each other, no matter where the other person is coming from. We have to take into consideration how our actions, how our influences hurt others, whether from bullying or leading friends down the wrong path that would ultimately do them harm. I assure you, there will come a day, there will come a time, when you will regret your actions, if not now, certainly when you meet God. You may not believe in God, but is that a risk you can take? Is the possibility that you have hurt the very creature created in the image of God, something you are willing to face God on with no regret. Then there is something about when you will ultimately see your own loved ones bullied or led down the wrong direction by those who think only of themselves. I assure you there is a time that is coming, a time when you will realize, people matter, people need love, and that love starts with you.
The following is a video I encourage you to watch, just click on it and if it don't appear click on the link. The video was posted by my friend Rush on Facebook. It inspired me to write this posting.
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