“Mommy, I am being bullied…and it is hurting my heart…”
I couldn’t tell you what exactly drew my gaze as she spoke those words.
Perhaps it was the look in her big brown eyes. Perhaps it was the crazy, adult verbalization from a 3-year-old who is normally good with a loud scream. Perhaps it was her tone or the way her whole body melted into mine as she climbed up onto my lap.
But something made me take my attention from a long-awaited adult conversation and ask,
“What words are hurting your heart, Sophie?”
“They said I am different, Mommy.”
And with that quiet answer, a sniffle and a snuggle, she climbed down and headed back to the overrun play place. Now normally, I would have returned to my conversation but something gnawed at me. Something in my own heart kept my eyes squarely on her.
I watched as she tried to defend herself with her words against those twice her age. I watched as she withdrew and came back to the booth to retreat into a book. I even watched as she tried to reengage once more with her mama-bear, big sister defending her.
And even in a few places in-between, watching was not enough so I came to her rescue, employing my fiercest “mom” look and a few carefully chosen admonitions.
But in spite of all that effort, something changed in her...
And the one who had been bullied became a bully herself.
It was in that moment that my heart not only broke for my girl but for a community of people (to whom I belong) that so often gets caught up in a cycle of bullying words and attitudes and even actions. We quip, we argue, we gang-up, we gossip, we judge (even ourselves) and in turn, we create a new generation of bullies…year after year after year.
I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it. I’ve even (sadly) been a part of it.
It is a community where even those who have experienced the grace of Jesus hold tight to their own criticism and choices. I doubt if I even have to reveal in writing, its players. Or do I, mamas?
Schools. Food. Discipline.
Clothes. Technology. Chores.
Sleep schedules. Potty-training. Media exposure.
Immunizations. Curriculum. Doctrine.
Etc. Etc. Etc.
You name it and we have found a way to fight over it.
It is killing us slowly, even if we don’t know it. It is molding us, shaping us, growing us into the next generation of bullies. And our kids our watching…
Watching as we choose our choices over the love and grace and mercy that has already been so lavishly extended to us. Watching as we choose insecurity over the knowledge that we are loved by a King. Watching as we choose fear instead of peace…
Watching as we give up, give in and give way to our cattiness.
“Did you see what she let her daughter wear?”
“I can’t imagine why they send their kids to <any school choice that isn’t mine>, what are they thinking? <My choice> is what is best for kids.”
“Drug addiction, pregnancy and rebellion should not even be a part of a teen’s life if they come from a home where parents are involved.” (SERIOUSLY. THIS ONE. WITW?!?!?!)
“If I had a day with <someone else’s kid>, he/she would be potty-trained, disciplined and happy (aka pretty much perfect.)”
“Breastfeeding is the only choice a responsible, loving mother makes.”
Or to put it in a catch phrase that makes it seem nicer, “Breast is best.”
“Baby-wearing is just over the top.”
“Why are people having <so many or so few> kids, don’t they know resources are limited or that children are a gift from the Lord?”
And by the by, if anyone is presently excluding themselves from responsibility, we have ALL said something like this, including yours truly, because just like my Sophie, we are continually drawn into this brutal play place of motherhood. We want to belong. And in that want, we begin to believe the lie that our only choice for survival is to join the crowd and give way to its false security.
But newsflash, y’all…
There are a million different ways to be a good mom…A MILLION…but no one, absolutely no one is ever going reach perfection. Neither are we all going to be the same. Jesus allows us the freedom to choose, but somewhere in our insecurity we don’t offer that same freedom to one another.
And yet, we are a community that needs community. We need a play place where we can feel safe. We need a well of encouragement from which we can steadily draw.
We need sisters to help us remember that we measured by the content of our hearts, not the product of our faithfulness.
Yes, we still must be faithful. But the outcome belongs to Him. Now let me say that one more time…
The. Outcome. Belongs. To. Him.
And the sooner we realize it, the sooner we can work together to finally send the bully home, to enjoy the freedom Jesus gives and to abandon dialogue that would cause any sweet sister to get on her knees and say,
“Daddy, I am being bullied…and it is hurting my heart…”
Sara Cormany guest posts on the first Friday of each month. Sara is mommy to six-year-old Grace, four-year-old Drew and one-year-old Sophie. When she is not wiping noses, changing diapers or chasing her kids, she is a sometimes writer and a sometimes teacher to teenagers. But her most cherished role is that of one who is perfectly held by Jesus. She loves watching Him take the broken, the messy and the seemingly mundane of her everyday and turn it into something beautiful. She recently began her own blog called Where Feet May Fail. Be sure to check it out.