Tag Archives: bullying

Choose to Rise Above

I watched this beautiful video recently and it really got me thinking. It’s a powerful message and reminder to be kind to everyone.

What’s been on my mind in the days since watching it are the choices we make. Unfortunately, no matter how many amazing videos there are that teach us not to bully or be unkind, no matter how we strive to teach it in our homes, churches, and schools, as long as there is agency to choose right from wrong, there will be those who choose to be unkind and downright mean. Sometimes the unkind acts are intentional, sometimes they are unintentional – the offenders may not even be aware they have caused offense or hurt feelings.  Not only do we need to teach our children how to be kind and (hopefully) not be the bullies, and by all means, correct their behavior when and if they are, we also need to teach our children that they have a choice on how they will let others affect their lives.

We can choose to let them rule us, let their words and actions keep us from reaching our full potential. We can choose to let them drive us from church. We can choose to  hold a grudge that will eat away at our spirits.

We can choose to not let what others say and do keep us from reaching our full potential. We can choose to not let others drive us from developing a close and personal relationship with God. We can choose to forgive and rise above, gleaning good lessons from our experiences.

Some might read my post so far and say, easy for you to say such things, what can you possibly know about being bullied or picked on.

You’re right, I may not know as much as some, but this is what I do know.

I know the moments when I walked into the lunchroom in grade school and sat at a table only to have it immediately evacuated. But, it taught me to be more compassionate and to seek out the lonely.

I know the sinking feeling of waiting to be picked for a team and always to be chosen last. To hope that this time I’d do a good job at kickball or whatever sport we were playing, only to be jeered by both my team and the others when I royally messed up. But, it taught me to be patient with others as they practice and learn to do things.

I know all to well the embarrassment and dismay of finding out that vicious rumors were being spread about me, not only at high school, but at church – and they were started by the girls I went to church with. But, it taught me to be careful with my words.

My list could continue, there were many moments through middle school and high school that were hard and hurtful. I was rather awkward, and though I strove to show confidence, I was a quivering mess inside. But, each experience taught me something and made me stronger. I know I wasn’t always successful in showing the lessons I learned. I am sure I made mistakes, though hopefully not the same ones that hurt me as I grew up.

We all, in life, experience many things, many trials, whether it be bullies, or sickness, or death. And with each trial we have a choice. We can give it power over us. We can become the victim. We can get angry and let it drive us away from all we hold dear and true, or we can stand tall, lift our chins and press on with conviction. Conviction that we are of worth – that no matter how others may see us, we are sons and daughters of God. We can develop forgiveness in our hearts, and be the comfort bringers to others who have suffered similar hurts who may not know how to overcome.

There are days when my girls come home upset, sometimes even in tears, with what kids have said to them. Does my heart ache for them? Yes! But, I know that if I strive to teach them right, these experiences can be for their good. Rather than sitting and talking about how mean the bullies are, or how we’re justified to dislike them or be rude back, we talk about how they can be sure not to treat others that same way and how we can choose to forgive and move on. I remind my dear daughters (and sons) that they are beautiful children of God, and that they have the power to choose. I remind them to keep that power, and not give it away.

Just the other day one of my daughters mentioned to me how she saw a girl sitting all by herself, and she went and sat with her. She didn’t know the girl, but she knew what it was like to sit alone. She excitedly told me how grateful the girl was and how the girl felt she had no friends. My daughter could understand and reach out because she had learned her lesson, and rather than letting it defeat her, she chose to rise above and bless someone else’s life. I was prouder in that moment, than any other about the choices she is making.

Yes, bullying needs to stop. It’s cruel. It’s wrong. Yes, we need to teach our children to be kind and to not bully.
But, we also need to teach our children that when they are picked on, made fun of, bullied, or treated unkindly, that they can choose to let it defeat them, or to let it make them into strong, compassionate people.  We need to teach them to rise above and to love, even the undeserving and the unkind. We need to teach not to sacrifice their eternal well being for anything.

I remember Lizy coming home one afternoon from elementary school in tears. The girl who upset her had been rather mean. We talked for quite a while. As her tears dried up a thoughtful look crept upon her face. “Mom, maybe that girl can’t help it. Maybe she doesn’t have someone at home to love and teach her.”  I recall nodding my head in agreement as I told her, “we have no idea what trials others are passing through and how it affects them. But we can choose how we will let their words and deeds affect us.” She went to school the next day with the determination to show that girl more love, and what an example she taught me!

Gordon B. Hinckley says in his book “Stand a Little Taller”:

“Rise Above Weakness

‘And blessed is he that is found faithful unto my name at the last day, for he shall be lifted up to dwell in the kingdom prepared for him from the foundation of the world.’ – Ether 4:19

“Do we have frailties? Yes, of course we do. Do we have members of the Church who are not what they ought to be? Of course we do. Some of them may be your neighbors. You might have one for a roommate. Do not condemn the Church for that. Rather, say to yourself, “My membership in this Church is worth more than all of the evil that people can do to me,” if that is what it takes. You be faithful, you be true.”

“LOVE OVERCOMES

‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not parish, but have everlasting life.’ – John 3:16

“Love is the only force that can erase the differences between people — that can bridge chasms of bitterness.”

I strive to live my life so that I can be found faithful and true to the end. I do this one day at a time. Every day I have to forgive myself and forgive others.  I hope that they will in turn forgive me for actual or perceived wrongs that I have committed. I pray for love and compassion towards others, especially those who are difficult to love, and I hope they do the same for me when they find me difficult to love.

Life is a series of experiences designed to help us learn and grow and reach our full potential. It’s too short to let the intentional or unintentional injuries caused by others to the body, spirit, or soul get or keep us down. What we take away from life is up to us. Only you can decide how the actions or words of another will affect you. Will you get to the end with a list of grievances about how it’s been unfair, how you let others control your life by their actions? Or will you get to the end knowing that no matter what happened to you, you strove to love and learn the good lessons and let those experiences, both good and bad, shape you into the amazing person you are?

The choice is yours.

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” –John 13: 34-35″

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Filed under Opinion, Parenting, Religion

Just One Hug

Ok, I have a beef with this one. I wrote the post, published it, and the entire thing disappeared! (except for the title) Grrrrr. So, I guess I get to re-write.

I put Emmy and Jacob into the cart/stroller ready to head off on my walk. My ankle was feeling much better, and with the warm up walk I did yesterday, I was anxious to get going. Dorothy was dancing around the driveway when she saw two of the little girls that she frequently walked to and from school with.

“Mom, can I go walk with them? Please, Mom, please?” she begged.

“Sure,” I replied popping a kiss on her head, “I love you.”

She dashed off anxious to join her friends. I continued to get everything ready to walk while Elizabeth waited patiently. ” I want to walk with you,” she had said when questioned why she didn’t run off with Dot. I pushed in the last of the blankets and we headed off, not rushing, just enjoying the walk. I stopped and spoke with the crossing guard for a few minutes. By the time we were on our way again, Dot was long gone. Most likely already at school I figured. We rounded the last corner and began walking down the last stretch of sidewalk toward school.

In the distance I saw a small figure running at full speed, her back pack flopping up and down. At first I thought she had forgotten something, then I saw the tears. It was her usual upset cry, this was broken hearted sobbing. My mind was frantic as I tried to figure out what was causing such distress.

“They told me they hated me,” she gasped in broken sobs as she flung herself into my outstretched arms.

“Who?” I asked puzzled.

“The girls I was walking with. They really hurt my feelings”

I did my best to console her, hugging her long and hard, reminding her of all the people who loved her, and to remember how she felt so she wouldn’t hurt someone else’s feelings in the same way. But really, in the end all I could do was give her a hug and tell her I loved her. She seemed in better spirits and bordering on happy by the time we reached the school. Moments like this hurt both parent and child. I felt my heart broken with hers. I know there will be many more moments like this too come, though I somehow don’t think they will ever become easier, or that I will ever really know what to say. But, I can always hug. There is a powerful amount of healing in just one hug.

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Filed under Children, Dot, Lizy, Parenting

Growth

I clutched my brown paper bag lunch in my fist as I walked into the lunchroom. Most of the kids had a hot lunch, and those who didn’t had cool lunches with Wonder Bread, cookies, and chips. I had thick dry homemade bread, veggies, and fruit. I didn’t mind, but they seemed to. I was dressed in hand-me downs, always neat, always clean, but not the “right” brand or “in style.” I didn’t see why it mattered, but they thought it did. I dreaded sitting down at any one of those tables, my one and only friend was sick, I knew what would happen. I quietly slipped into a chair with as few girls as possible, and in silent exodus they all deserted.

I didn’t mind moving to Oregon, it was an exciting place with the beach nearby and opportunities to make new friends. Maybe things would be different on the other side of the country. I made friends quickly; I was even in with some of the “popular” kids in middle school. But then I made friends with the under-dog. Oops, what was I thinking? I decided I could care less about popularity. I made friends easily then; they would come and go. Mom would ask me about what happened to so-and-so and I would shrug and say, “They moved on.” I called myself the stepping stone friend, it wasn’t comfortable and I didn’t like it.

I liked moving on to high school (and especially college), bigger school and easier to hide and avoid the cliques and popularity contests. I finally had good solid friends. Music has blessed my life in more than just one aspect. I was so eager to leave the childish behavior of popularity and fashion behind. Eager to discover who I was and that I didn’t need to change me to please others. Learning and growing, I discovered people who actually knew me and liked me and didn’t just step on me on their way to bigger and better friends.

I still find myself surprised from time to time when someone wants to be my friend; a little amazed that I am someone they want to get to know. I have come to value close friends and find them to be few sometimes, though I have many acquaintances and casual friendships. My out going nature masking the timidity which I feel in social situations.

A friend of mine is moving away tomorrow. I haven’t even known her for a year, but sometimes there’s just a connection that spans a lifetime. They just slip into your life like they have always been there, just slightly in the shadows where you could not see. You know that person has made a difference in your life and you have made a difference in theirs. You’re sad to see them go but excited for their opportunities. Memories to cherish and dreams to forge; I am a greater person for having known this friend.

Life has a way of interrupting friendships. We become busy and neglect to write or call, and time passing can make things feel empty and awkward. I think of other dear friends that I have neglected, and I miss them. While it may be hard to track down and renew old friendships, one thing I make the effort to do is honor the friendships created today.

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Filed under Memory, Philosophy, Writing