What do you do with a bully?

Originally printed in the Christian Science Sentinel

When Matt was in first grade, he and his family moved to a new city in a different state. It was not easy being the new kid when school started again after the winter break. Ben, the tallest and loudest boy in the class, told everyone not to play with Matt, just because he came from somewhere else. To make it even worse, the biggest kids on the bus did things that really scared Matt.

One day on the bus ride home, one of the older boys sat right behind Matt. He leaned over the seat, looking down on Matt with a mean snarl. The boy reached down, took the cord of Matt's sweatshirt, and wrapped it around Matt's neck. Then he began to tighten it. The boy did stop, and very shortly it was time for Matt to get off the bus. But by the time Matt got home, he was afraid and mad at the same time!

Matt's mom listened to his story. She did not like what she heard, but she calmly told Matt that he had two choices, and she would leave it up to him to decide what to do. The first choice was that she could drive him to and from school each day. The second choice was that he could pray and heal the situation.

Now, Matt had seen prayer heal many situations before, so he was at least interested in what his mom had to say about prayer. She admitted that most people, after an experience like that, would continue to see these big kids as bullies. But this view of them would never heal anything. She suggested that when he saw the boys again he refuse to see them as bullies, but see them instead as the very children of God, pure and innocent.

His mom showed him a verse in the Bible that tells us what we should try to see in each other. "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace" (Ps. 37:37). Matt's mom showed him that the sentence could be read as both a demand and a promise. The passage is a demand that we agree to believe only the good that God expresses in the other person, or in ourselves. It can also be read as a promise, like, "We will see only the perfect person because God will show us what is real instead of the error (the mistake about the person) that we think we see. Because we are seeing what God has created, we will feel at peace, and so will others."

Matt's mom said that Matt's prayer was to see kindness and goodness in the boys even before they started acting better, and that God would show him that goodness. Matt saw that he must not get tricked into believing anything other than what God has created, which is always good. This is what Jesus did. Jesus saw good in the place where other people saw bad, and he expected people to act right. Matt's mom turned to "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," a book written by Mary Baker Eddy, the person who started this newspaper. It points out how Jesus viewed things. It says, "He plunged beneath the material surface of things, and found the spiritual cause" (pg. 313).

They agreed that because God is the only cause and creates only good, we can look for that in everyone we meet. Matt felt that he could follow Jesus' example and put this into practice the next time he rode the bus. And for several weeks, that's just what he did.

One day at school, Matt's first-grade class was paired with a sixth-grade class to play basketball. Matt played basketball with the kid who had put the cord around his neck. When they were all on the bus after school, Matt turned to him, and with all the courage he could find, he said, "You sure are good at basketball."

The boy looked surprised, but he said, "You are, too."

From that day on, Matt never felt afraid on the bus again.

You might also like to know that Ben, the boy in Matt's class who had been mean, asked Matt to sit next to him on the first day of second grade. Ben and Matt stayed good friends for a long time.

Blessed are the

peacemakers: for

they shall be called

the children of God.

Matthew 5:9

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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