Bullying has made the news lately and been debated in State Legislatures. A bully is a “blustering browbeating person; one who ridicules and is habitually cruel to others who are weaker.” As of January 2012, 48 States had anti-bullying laws in schools, but what happens when the ridicule occurs in a marriage or a family?
I grew up in a home where my mother couldn’t do much right. Most conversations with my father disintegrated into derision for her weight, her housekeeping, even the way she drove the car. I grew up thinking that unless you were “perfect” in every way, your spouse would point out your deficiencies at every opportunity. I realized how destructive “ridicule” is in a relationship when I had a year-long battle with anorexia my sophomore year of College.
Jesus was challenged by the Pharisees in the 8th chapter of John to stone a woman caught in adultery. The Pharisees were the “rule-players” and it was the law. Jesus not only had the right to verbally abuse her, but to put her to death! Instead, Jesus suggested that the person who was without sin cast the first stone. As the Pharisees disbanded one by one, the Lord showed the woman mercy, grace, and forgiveness and gently told her to go about her life and sin no more.
A friend showed great wisdom when she recently shared details of her divorce. “During the first three years of marriage, we got along great, but then something changed after the kids came along. He started to complain about the house not being clean enough, the bills not getting paid, and even the way I wrote thank-you notes! No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t please him. He was verbally cruel always trying to make me feel inferior. What was even worse is we all went to church as a family every Sunday and he served on the Parish Council!”
She continued, “I knew that God still loved me and I prayed that my husband would change; but nothing happened. It was a hard decision, but after years of ridicule I realized that I had to divorce him, not for my sake but for my 7-year-old son’s sake. I couldn’t let my son grow up thinking that it was acceptable for a man to treat a woman that way. I want my son to know what love looks like and I teach him that Jesus never treated anyone with ridicule or contempt, only with love. Ridicule and bullying have no place in families. When Jesus said love thy neighbor as thyself, it includes the people in our house.”
My friend is wise indeed.
Do you have a tendency to judge those you are closest to, criticizing the smallest of daily events? Do you know someone that is being bullied in a relationship?
I pray that the judgment and bullying will stop.
Blessings, my friend,