How To Not Hate Bullies

A post inspired by Paul, because I can't remember how to do trackbacks and I didn't want to hog up all his comment space :) Its not such a dark post, although it has a slightly grim beginning ...

I know a lot about hate. I understand it. I've felt it. So much so that love of God and fear of consequences wouldn't have stopped me if my husband hadn't actually been there to bodypin me and wrestle the car-keys away from me. Fortunately, I calmed down after about five mintues. No crimes were committed ...

The question is this, how do you not hate someone who deserves to be hated? To go beyond that, to love them? To even PRAY for them!?! To ask that they be blessed and drawn close to God and forgiven? That the very thing you hate them for not be counted against them?

In my head, God worked it out like this -- They must have been babies. At SOME point, they were babies. Little babies. Probably little babies who just wanted to love and be loved, who were neglected and abused. When you look at them, start seeing them as those very small children. Its easy to feel sorry for abused babies. Feeling sorry for them is the beginning ...

Then, keep remembering that they weren't always like this. Something twisted them into a monster. A really bad monster. A monster that deserves to die in a really bad way. But ... what if the monster could be changed? What if the monster could be done away with and save the baby?

So, you're not really praying for the monster, you're praying for the baby. In fact, you're praying that the monster be destroyed. And in its place that the person they were supposed to be is allowed to grow. The only way to save that baby is to pray. A lot. Fervently. Like that babies life depended on it. Because it does.

I also suspect that the praying and loving our enemies isn't only about our enemies. Although prayer can and will change them, more to the point it can and will change US. Its not about being non-judgemental or tolerant. Its about judging and rightly finding guilt, except that there can be grace and mercy.

Without grace and mercy, we are nothing. Praying for our enemies will lead us to a deeper experience of grace and mercy.

Let me also note, this does not mean that I'm a pacifist. I'm all about winning. Bullies must be prevented from continuing their reigns of terror, whether on the local playground or in the Middle East. Yet, stopping them doesn't require us to hate them. Stopping them is bad for them, but hating them is bad for us.

Lets think about this for example: The monster wins if we hate the bully/baby. We are consumed by hate, no one prays for the bully/baby, the situation deteriorates. Let me point out again -- THE MONSTER WINS.

Now, consider this: We hate the monster. We pray fervently for the baby, out of pity and compassion which can grow into love. The baby/bully starts to feel the workings of God/prayer in his life. Changes happen, perhaps quickly or perhaps slowly. Perhaps very extra-especially slowly. But, changes WILL happen. The monster is shrunk into nothingness. We win. The baby wins. God wins. Yay us!

So, what YOU do is up to YOU. Don't let a monster manipulate you into losing. As for me, I cling to that verse "I believe. Help my unbelief." God knows, I couldn't pray for bullies on my own. Fortunately, I don't have to.


Oh, boy, do I feel that one. I have found that for myself, the first step is praying. Sometimes it's the prayer of, "God, I don't know what's redeemable about them, but you know their heart, and you know MY heart, and we both need some help here."

Good work on finding a way to pray for them.

My youngest dd had a way of cutting to the quick when she was smaller. She would see someone (even an adult) acting badly, and look at me with such fierceness and pronounce, "Ooh, they need a spankin'!"

Leni | 08/01/2006 - 07:37 PM

Lucy, thank you. I very much appreciate this piece. As you can no doubt tell from what I wrote over on my blog this morning, this is an issue I've wrestled with for many, many years. I almost hesitate to bring up the topic of bullies and hate, because I know halfway through I'm going to feel (and sound to the reader) like I'm metamorphosizing into Anakin Skywalker going over to the dark side of the Force.

"I believe. Help my unbelief." Precisely. After all these years, when it comes to bullies, the best I can do is to walk myself through praying for them, walk myself through by dead reckoning on a cold, purely intellectual level. I can think it. I can will it. But I can't for the life of me begin to feel it.

With ordinary people, sinners like you and me but not bullies, if I find they've somehow become my enemy, or I've come to look on them as an enemy, I can pray for them and feel it. Not easy sometimes, but I can do it. But praying for a bully remains for me at best a purely abstract exercise carried out by rote.

Odd thing is, people who've known me for years, for decades, would never guess any of this from my easygoing day-to-day comportment. But inwardly it remains a real spiritual struggle for me. Do pray for me on this point, please. And once again, thanks for this blog post of yours, I really do appreciate it.

Paul Burgess | 08/01/2006 - 08:20 PM

Tried to leave a trackback but got a 500 internal server error.

My post is here.

McGehee | 08/02/2006 - 03:10 PM

I thought I said something here but bet I previewed and walked away.

This is a great subject and I love the answers.

Janelle | 08/09/2006 - 02:05 AM
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