I don’t know about you, but when my kids are the ones being picked on, Mama feels all the feelings.
I’m talking anger, hurt, and, in this particular case, bafflement, at who was doing the bullying and who didn’t step in to stop it.
A few years ago, one of my daughters had a bit of a lisp, and some of the boys on the school bus were making of her. They would tease her, call her names, and mimic her talking with her lisp, of course exaggerating.
Spit actually flew from their middle school mouths to my little girl’s face!
She came home in a puddle of humiliation.
I wanted to climb aboard the yellow bus like a mildly deranged mama bear and have a swipe or two at those hooligans, but of course, I restrained myself. (I aspire to be sanely involved with my children’s conflicts.) I prayed for grace, forgiveness, and wisdom, because the main instigator was the son of a friend. Yikes!
And my son was a witness to what had been happening to his sister.
“Sweetie, what did you do when those boys were picking on your sister?”
My usually reliable son averted his eyes and lowered his head.
Nothing?! Boys were spitting on my little girl and he did nothing?!
I wanted to jump out of my skin. But motherhood is all about gulping those deep breaths and praying those ‘Help me, now!’ prayers.
“Nothing? You watched your sister get spit on and you did nothing? Please help me understand.”
Before he could respond, I kept going (as moms do):
“Honey, we belong to the same family—we are Bultemas. We stick together. Family doesn’t stand by and do nothing when our sister or our brother needs help. Family members take care of each other.”
I was trying to teach my son about family, about unity and how to pursue peace in our broken, hurting world.
The bus drama with my daughter sparked negative emotions in me, but it was also an opportunity to remember I am called to pursue unity—with bullies, and moms of bullies, and with my siblings in Christ.
“Unity” is kind of a churchy word, but like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:10—
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
…it just means agreeing with one another, with no divisions, no conflict.
(“Division” in ancient Greek has a connotation of ripping or tearing fabric, so literally Paul begged the church members in Corinth to not be ripped apart.)
But…drama and conflict come up all the time—can I get an amen?
It pops up with friends, kids, siblings, and between husbands and wives. It flares on the playground, the workplace, the big yellow school bus.
We can’t avoid conflict, but we do get to choose how to deal with it.
Do we make the rip worse or do we do all we can to mend, to heal?
When he wrote his letter, Paul knew the local church in this Greek city was a hot mess of overblown drama and bitter contention. Four cliques had formed—Team Paul, Team Apollos, Team Cephas (or Peter), and Team Jesus, a group which boasted that they were above all the petty squabbling. Each was sure they were right and everyone else was wrong.
Sound familiar in this political season?
I love how Paul writes his letter with a pastor’s heart, using family language. No less than twenty times Paul addresses his “brothers and sisters.” His loving yet firm tone is one we might use if we were going out for coffee with a sibling or a friend who had lost their way. “Oh, friend…I love you, but this has got to stop.”
Let…”there be no divisions among you,” Paul writes.
- No drama.
- No he said/she said.
- No spitting on each other.
- No hurting each other!
“…be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
- Build each other up.
- Gently, patiently, kindly.
- At peace.
- Get up ev’rybody and sing!
Okay, so that last line is not technically in the verse, but this whole discussion of getting along in the family of God gives me a flashback to fourth grade. The roller rink, my Shaun Cassidy satin jacket and bell bottom jeans. And “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge:
“We are family
I got all sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev-rybody and sing!”
Great song, and even greater message.
By the way, the instigator in my girl’s bus drama?
With his mom’s encouragement, he came over and apologized, giving my girl a bookstore gift card he bought with his own money. Grace ruled, and harmony was restored.
Life delivers many reasons to be at odds with our sisters (and our brothers). Let’s look for ways to be at one with them, instead. Let’s also look for ways to be family to each other, to stand up for each other as dearly loved daughters and sons of a Good, Good Father.
Because family takes care of each other, always.
Lord, forgive us for the times we’ve stood back and done nothing while our brothers and sisters were getting picked on and bullied. Remind us afresh how to best reflect Your love and grace in the midst of our broken, hurting world. Help us to be peacemakers, drama diffusers, and restorers in every way. Thank You that you designed us for unity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
P.S. Want to learn more about Paul’s powerful instructions to the Corinthians and to you and me in my new book: Live Full, Walk Free? It’s available for pre-order. Yippee! And guess what? I’m super excited to see it’s even on sale for 25% off at Amazon right now. Who doesn’t love a bargain! Plus, check out my FREE downloadable A to Z cards too at www.churchsource.com/cindybultema. How fun!