by Tracy Darlington
Bullies 101: 11 Christian Artists Dish on Bullies
"Bullies are very insecure people who use those they see as weaker people as an emotional outlet. But they themselves have problems, maybe at home or on some other level that isn't as obvious." --John Reuben
In your face, on the bus, in the locker room or the neighborhood---there will always be bullies wherever you go. You may have felt the humiliating sting of being pushed around by a bully, or maybe you’ve even been one. Some of your favorite musicians have, too. Here are their personal stories and what you can do for yourself and others when faced with a bully.
I remember a girl in school telling me a boy liked me and wanted to know if I would go out with him. She told me, “He’s waiting for an answer; you better go tell him.” I went up to this guy and said that I liked him, but I just wanted to be his friend and wasn’t interested in anything more. He looked at me with this blank expression. There had been no conversation about liking me whatsoever; it had been completely made up to make me look stupid! Guys have probably had this happen too, being set-up by their buddies in a humiliating way. Be friends with a diverse group of people. Be nice to everyone, including those who aren’t in the “cool cliques”. And as for the bullies - pray for them!
TREVOR MCNEVAN (Thousand Foot Krutch):
Ask God to help you
see the victim through His eyes, and you’ll
realize that those are the people that need you the most. Hang with them;
let them know somebody cares. Sometimes they’re the coolest kids in
school, and nobody knows it! As hard as it is, try to react out of love for
the bullies, and they won’t be able to stand it!
I know what it feels like to be bullied---to not fit in, to be the new kid, the different kid. When they’d stick awful drawings of me in my locker I’d laugh and pretend that they didn’t matter, but they left a mark. The names they called me were awful, too. I tried not to believe them, but after awhile I couldn’t help it. One of the things that I regret most in life was the day that I joined in. I totally bowed to the pressure, and I laughed at their comments about a friend of mine. The reaction was great. I was cool for 2 seconds, but at the expense of the only friend I had. I felt awful. I realized I did it for the sake of fitting in. All of a sudden, I felt sorry for the bullies, because I know how awful I felt after one day of that shallowness.
If you are being bullied, the most important thing you can do is not believe them. When I gave Jesus my whole heart I stopped caring what others thought, and then I was out of their reach. I took a stand, and people didn’t mind. Sure, there were comments at first. But when someone doesn’t care, it’s not as much fun to pick on them.
All through middle and high school I was bullied. I was also a bully at times. I was insecure, full of rage, and wanting revenge. I’ve written a song on my album Hindsight about this, called “Defensive Offender”. Bullies are very insecure people who use those they see as weaker people as an emotional outlet. But they themselves have problems, maybe at home or on some other level that isn't as obvious. The teenage years are the hardest and most vital years in a human's development. Be confident and proud of who God has made you. Defend yourself in a loving, but confident, manner. A lot of times the atmosphere can completely change, and you will be the one influencing the environment.
MICHAEL TAIT (Newsboys):
I was bullied in junior high school. I think a lot of it had to do with how small I was; I was a little shy too. Bullies only pick on people they feel they can overpower. If you are physically bigger than someone’s bully, it would be cool to step in and speak up for him. Talk to the right people, like parents and teachers, about the best way to deal with the issue at hand. Try having real and rational conversations with the bully. Pray that God will convict the bully’s heart and that he’ll reconsider his behavior.
MIKE WEAVER (Big Daddy Weave):
I was always intimidated
by the other kids. I kept to myself; I was really shy and quiet. The ride
on the school bus was traumatic. (Imagine
the scene from Forest Gump, “Seat’s taken!”) Try to be
an encouragement to those who are being picked on. I think there’s
something really noble about someone who isn’t afraid to stand up for
someone else. Jesus Himself said that there is no greater love than when
someone lays down his life for his friends. Realize that this is just a very
temporary time in your life; God has bigger plans for your future.
I learned that not everyone is going to like me or what I do, but I know that people who are closest to me know the truth about who I am, and that’s all that really matters at the end of the day. Being bullied is a huge blow to our self esteem, and it might be embarrassing. Do all you can to build people up and remind them that the one doing the bullying is the one with the insecurities. If necessary, get someone with authority involved to make sure the bullying stops. Don’t let what they say affect who you are. The One who’s inside is stronger than anything anyone can say or do to you.
MARK GRAALMAN (Sanctus Real):
I remember ganging up on this kid with my friends in the neighborhood, just picking on him and pushing him around until he would go home crying. Years later, since I've come to know the Lord, I know that God has forgiven me, but it still breaks my heart knowing that I hurt that kid. To this day he's dealing with extreme insecurities, and it's so sad knowing I was part of the reason why he hurts inside. I pray for the opportunity to see him again sometime and ask his forgiveness.
Chances are, if people aren’t sticking up for themselves, it's because they don't believe in themselves. If you show them respect, maybe they’ll find the confidence to stand up and not let someone walk all over them.
Memorize Prov. 3:26, and anytime
a bully starts to push you around just recite it in your mind and believe
that the Lord will be your confidence.
The Holy Spirit will rise up inside you and give you the boldness to stand
up to them, and the wisdom to do so in love.
JEREMY THIESSEN (downhere):
I took more than my fair share of verbal abuse for being the goodie-goodie, teacher's pet, Jesus-loving "fat kid". Those weren’t the most enjoyable years of my school career, but it was neat to see how the bullies’ respect for me grew as I continued to live consistently and never retaliated.
The best way to help a victim of bullying is to speak truth into their life. Put yourself in his shoes and think about what you would want someone to do for you - then go out and do it for him. Your "manliness" may even be called into question, but the truth is only a real man would be able to control his anger and natural instincts and not resort to the same childish behavior as the aggressor. Jesus was the victim of the absolute worst case of bullying, and even in the midst of it he was able to pray, "Father, forgive them." You can't get any more manly than that!
My dad is a pastor, and we moved around a lot. The 7th grade is a bad time to come into a new school. There were lots of cliques: the athletes, the smarties, the cools, the beautiful; even the "nerds" and "losers" had their groups. I would have gladly joined any of them, but the new kid wasn't welcome. I hated being bullied. It took years for me to gain friends and confidence. When that day came, I was determined not to be a bully. In high school I didn't join any one clique. I made friends with people from all groups.
With age I have learned that fighting doesn't solve anything. Now when I see someone being pushed around I often go out of my way to help. Each of us has the power to make someone else feel valuable or feel worthless - it's our choice. Find the person that no one will sit with at lunch, and sit with them. My relationship with Christ gave me the confidence I needed to not be so affected by the bullying. I learned that only Christ could define me, and that His plans for me were bigger than any clique. Pray for your enemies; avoid situations that could be dangerous. You are valuable. You were made for great things!
Tracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Susie Magazine, and other publications. She has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Pillar, Michelle Tumes, and many others. In her spare time she can be found riding horses or listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte. Visit her online at her blog where she talks about Music, God, dogs and coffee. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.