After the shooting at Santana High School last month, the news reported that the boy who did the shooting was small for his age and was frequently picked on by other kids. Why do people sometimes feel forced into this kind of extreme reaction? No matter what people's age or size, it can be disturbing when a problem pushes them around and makes them feel small and maybe even stupid.
When I was a kid there was a song we sang about bullies:
You're not the boss of me now,
you're not the boss of me now,
you're not the boss of me now
and you're not so big.
I remember repeating this when I felt threatened. Today I still say it to myself sometimes when I feel pushed around. Any situation or problem that feels like it's bigger and more powerful than God can be faced with authority. That's because being abused is never God's plan for anyone. Hurt is not the boss of you now. Anger is not the boss of you now. Meanness is not the boss of you now, and none of these things is so big that you can't turn to God for help.
The Bible's famous story of David and Goliath (see I Samuel, chap. 17) has lessons for today. It tells how David, who was young and not an experienced fighter, volunteered to fight Goliath, a champion nine-foot exterminator-type wearing a ton of armor. But David wasn't used to armor and didn't want it because it made him feel awkward. Now, David wasn't just some overly confident kid. He already had proof that God was his help in every situation. When he was a shepherd alone in a remote spot with his sheep, he needed to protect them. And he had felt God's help a few times when he had to rescue sheep from a lion and a bear. So he depended on God when he faced Goliath, and David took him out, armed only with five stones and a slingshot.
I like to think that each of the stones David chose stood for a truth he knew. Like, God is with me. God is good. God made me worthy. Nothing can rob me of my worth as God's child. I'm never a helpless victim. These truths can bring down a giant of deep hurt, anger, or pain. When truth answers a taunt, it ends the feeling that no one is on your side.
I don't put on a bullet proof vest every day, or carry a weapon to feel more powerful. Prayer is an armor that works for me. When I pray each day, I know that there aren't any victims or villains in God's creation. Each day I also read the Bible and a book that helps me apply the lessons the Bible teaches, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. In one place it says, "No power can withstand divine Love" (pg. 224). I remember this when I start believing taunts that I'm just a nobody and that my problems are bigger than God. Nothing is bigger than God, and there's no power to put me down because God loves me. When I'm trying to do what's right, God's power is with me.
Feeling powerless has caused kids and grown-ups to grab a weapon to feel protected or powerful. This is never a solution. But there is a weapon that doesn't harm anyone, and yet defeats anything unfair that says it's the boss over us, over God, over what's good. Prayer helps heal bullies and people who are being bullied. Strength and power that come from God will be the winner every time.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor