Yesterday I was driving my nieces to school and one had said something about the big band aid that she had on her arm the day before. I'd asked her what happened that day but she said it was a long story and didn't dive into the details then.
I asked again what happened and she let out a big exhale, partly annoyed with me, partly not wanting to talk about it, but her sister was in the car too so she started telling me what happened.
There'd been an incident with another boy at school, and she'd ended up on the ground and a nice sized scrape down her forearm. She then said how she had to walk all over to go find a band aid because the teacher outside didn't have one, with her cute little over-exagerating tone, how far she had to walk to get it.
I asked her if she had told the teacher what happened because people shouldn't be mean like that. She said she did. I asked her what she said to the little boy that did it, and she said she didn't do anything or say anything mean back to him when it happened. Proud aunt moment.
But then, she said something that struck a chord in me. She said "nope, because you're not supposed to dance with the bully." I asked her what that meant, and she went into how they're taught that when someone is mean to you or something happens, that you're not supposed to give in and be mean in return. If you do, then you're dancing with them, and it'll go around and round. Did that really just come out of the mouth of a seven year old? Pat on the back for her!
That of course got me thinking later in the day and relating that to our own lives. How hard is it for us to not dance with the bully in our daily lives? In my devotional this morning one of the verses it referenced was 1 Peter 4:8 and it was like God's trying to make sure I really take this point to heart. Love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.
When someone is selfish, lies to us, hurts us, or does something that we don't agree with. When someone's only actions are those that push your buttons and seemingly destroy any sense of peace within you, how do you continue to love them? How about when negativity and hate are the only sorts of words that come out of ones mouth? How do we love through it?
That's a good question and one that is not easy to carry out. Regardless of how we about whatever the situation, we're called to love. Love no matter how much we can't stand something.
What about when there's so much backstory and tension and other factors that prevent you from even wanting to maintain, pursue, or build a relationship with that person? Even then. Aren't we dancing with the bully when we don't love? We go around and round with whoever because we're holding on to the negativity of the situation. It doesn't improve, it remains static because we can't forget, we can't let go, we can't move forward.
What I've learned and is still a daily task for me, is that we can't change who someone is. We can't change their heart of stone and make it soft, we can't change how they act or who they are, but what we can do is be kind, lend an ear, and pray hard and long for them.
It doesn't have to be a huge effort, it doesn't have to require all of your time and your attention. There are little things that we can do that can go a long way.
It's not going to happen over night and it might not even happen in a few months or a few years, but God hears your prayers and He knows your heart. He created the mountains and the oceans and He knows the number of hairs on your head, and if He can do that, then surely He can wrap His arms around the one who needs true love, who needs to learn to forgive, around the one who has never looked at life optimistically.
God didn't create us to bully one another, He created us to love. To love others and to shine His light to those around us until it goes from a dimly lit, selfish, lost world, to one in which we're all united in love and kindness, seeking out the best in others and in ourselves.