I have a great deal of personal experience when it comes to bullying. You see, I was bullied for eight consecutive years, while attending a Catholic grade school. There were only 38 children in my class, so I was an easy target. Because of my physical deformity of clubbed feet, I wore braces on my legs. This set me apart from the others, making me the “outcast.” (The photo to the left was taken in 1962, at age 5). After what I experienced, it is amazing that I am still alive to tell my story today.
Bullying Has No Grace
The ugliness of the constant and consistent verbal abuse, demeaning my dignity and self-worth, proves to me that bullying has no grace. Bullying is an evil act. My bullies constantly referred to me as “metal legs,” “cootie bug,” – you get the picture. Their derisive behavior played havoc on my self-worth, leaving me changed, and not for the better. They scarred my psyche.
The Lingering Effects of Bullying
As I progressed through high school and college, I always felt like I needed to prove myself. No matter what I did, it was never good enough (in my mind). I didn’t realize how damaged my dignity and self-worth was until I was approximately 40 years old. I was at lunch one day, and had an epiphany. This epiphany was the beginning of a very slow process to recovery and forgiveness of my bullies.
I came to realize that my need for appreciation, my desire to excel at whatever I did, my need for recognition, all stemmed back to the verbal abuse from my grade school years. With every person I came across, I was still trying to win over the bullies of my past! With every “pat on the back” or success I garnered, I tried to fill the gaping abyss, formed by my bullies. The hole never filled up with earthly platitudes.
The Pain Remained, Until I Could Truly Forgive
I muddled through my fifties, thinking I had forgiven my bullies. Yet, the pain remained. Then I hit sixty, and the cloud began to clear. God knew that I was ready to let go of the pain. I was ready to truly forgive. How do I know this? Because God helped me to see that it is only through forgiveness that I would fill that gaping abyss. God made clear to me, that I needed to let go of the pain, and set my bullies free. Oh, how true are the words of the Our Father:
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
That word, “as,” has a powerful meaning. I sensed that if I couldn’t forgive my bullies, then I would be forever imprisoned with them, and none of us would be free. For any of us to get to Heaven, our souls need to be purified by God; cleansed of our sins, and our pain! So, with the grace of forgiveness, I have set my bullies, and me, free. I can now look back at my life, and what has occurred, and I no longer feel the pain. The Lord healed me enough, so that I can now tell you my story. Forgiveness flows from the font of Grace. Let it flow over you and heal you today. Don’t wait 60 years, like me, to feel the effects of God’s healing love.
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