Hurt People, Hurt People. Strong People, Strengthen People.
I was an easy target for bullies in middle school. I wasn’t overweight, but I was definitely soft to the touch, and punch. I tried to have style, but really just wore whatever my mom bought me, minus the few athlete jerseys and Yankees shirts I had.
I remember one time, I was wearing my favorite Larry Johnson Charlotte Hornets jersey to school. From point blank range a bully threw an open ketchup packet right into my back and it got all over my favorite jersey. Had I stood up for myself and epicly punched that bully in the face, I may have ended or reduced the amount of bullying I later endured. Instead, I continued to be a ladder bullies could climb to feel better about themselves for years to come.
With the constant bullying, I started to see myself as less and gave myself some pretty good anxiety through middle school and high school. I had very little confidence and always made sure I kept a tight cap on any of my achievements, so as not to “shine too brightly”.
Now that I’m a long way away from school and have freed myself from anxiety, (thanks sports and muscles), I still try to understand this bullying mentality. I’ve heard the phrases and you probably have too; “Misery loves company.” “Hurt people hurt people.” Yet I’m still trying to understand why people feel the need to pull you down with them.
As my wife and I have conversations about our children ever attending public school again, it’s hard for me to get past my own surfacing feelings of anxiety. Our kids are homeschooled in Kindergarten and 2nd grade, and I know I don’t want them going through what I did.
My son Dylan is WAAAAY nicer than I ever was and he’s somewhat on the spectrum still...so in my eyes he’s a really easy target.
I think if bullying were simply a school problem, I’d arm my kids with the emotional tools they needed to get through their school day, say a prayer, and send them off. But… Bullying is no longer a school problem, it’s a societal problem.
Just spend an hour on social media or watch the news and you're bombarded with narrow-minded messaging. So much of the content out there is set on convincing you that a certain way is right, and all others’ ways are wrong. What’s worse, it’s done under this mask (no pun intended), of being righteous and considerate of others.
Criticizing someone for their personal beliefs is bullying. Ostracizing a certain group of people for not conforming to the actions you believe is right, is bullying. Trying to shame or guilt anyone for being happy, healthy, or wealthy, is bullying.
Bullying is an act. It’s a verb. It’s a choice you choose everyday to do or not do. You are free to hold onto your own personal beliefs and own your personal journey through this life. Bullying is an action of trying to rob those things from another person.
The story of Joseph in the book of Genesis is one I want my kids to know well. I want them to know it because I don’t want them to ever shy away from a dream of greatness. I don’t want them to ever get pulled down by bullies.
In Joseph’s story, his brothers were his bullies. They got jealous when he told them a dream of his and they sold him into slavery, and lied to their father, reporting that he had died. Joseph encounters several more obstacles even after leaving his brothers, but in the end his dream comes true and his brothers bow to him.
I have dreams every night for myself, for my family, for my gym and community, for my state, my country, and my world. I’m not going to let the bullies of this world get in the way of the dreams I see.
Our world needs more people trying to pull others up. The team for pulling people down is full.
I have a challenge for you...What if, for one week, all you did was build others up?
Everything you say and do cannot in any way, shape, or form bring another human down or limit their trajectory upward.
Step 1 starts with you. Meaning you agree to not bring yourself down. You will not guilt yourself or upper limit yourself from any success or happiness.
Step 2 you encourage everyone you know, no matter how crazy their business idea is or whatever choice they make. No matter how “wrong” you think they are.
What do you think? Will you take this challenge with me?
I’ll go first. You can join the team of strong people. I know you can do this!
Genesis 37:4-8 NIV
4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.