Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Redemption and Forgiveness - A Bully Tale (pt 1)

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

Hush now. Gather round. I’ve got a story to tell about redemption and forgiveness. Redemption I hoped would never come. Forgiveness I never wanted to extend. And the worst, most miserable and embarrassing day of my life. 

That oughta be juicy enough for you to shut off Facebook and Pinterest for a while, huh? 

I’ve lived in this house four long years now. When I got here, I thought it was God’s answer to loss and abandonment. I thought it was a Heavenly version of HGTV: Restoration Jesus Style. If you’ve followed along for a while, you know how that dream turned to a nightmare in no time flat.

It wasn’t enough that the economy failed leaving us at risk of losing a home and enjoying a second foray into homelessness. Nope. God wasn’t finished with me even then.

I walked up and down this cul-de-sac asking God to let these new neighbors become friends. I envisioned tea, scones, and Bible studies around my dining room table. Then, life became bitter without the sweet.

I changed after we moved here. I changed because of bullying. I watched my happy-go-lucky son with a George Lucas-like imagination dry up and die on the vine at the hands of bullies.

I’d stand at the window and watch – desperately praying for God to give my son the skill to meet his challenges. I was loathe to intervene lest I be accused of being one of ‘those’ homeschooling helicopter moms.

Courtesy A. Squires
They were four years older. The deck was never stacked in his favor.

He changed. Rage filled him. He became dishonest, foul-mouthed, and disrespectful. In the worst of days, I was afraid we’d lost him forever. I thought there was no way he’d ever come back to us.

He spent long hours outdoors and was thrilled to find a creek in the backyard. After the bullying started in earnest, he vacillated between spending weeks and weeks indoors with taking a chance on going outside. 

If it was a good day, he came in calm and happy. If it was a bad day, life was literally hell on earth.

I knew I’d hit almost rock bottom when I could no longer bring myself to look up as a car passed while I was in the yard. The folks I prayed to meet were now the ones I wanted to avoid at all cost. 

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative 
All I wanted was to get off this God-forsaken street. God blocked every avenue of escape even when my husband found work out of state after a five month layoff.

I hit rock bottom on a day like any other. Son #2 decided to give the kids another chance. While he’d had a lot stomped out of him figuratively, relentless optimism egged him on. I held my breath and waited trying not to watch. I tried to give God my burden. Something in my gut knew trouble was afoot.

Even now, I burn hot and tremble remembering how long I let it go on. He was not in physical danger, but the emotional beating was more than I could bear another second of another minute of another day.

He'd saved money for a laminator and made ID cards for some friends. The bullies were mocking him as they played keep away with one of the cards. He was nearly beside himself. He was calm compared to me.

I flew out the door screaming like a banshee. In an instant I decided to use language I knew they’d understand. I was no longer the ‘safety patrol mom’ as they had so mockingly called me behind my back.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Anger shook me so hard my voice trembled as I spat out my message. Any remaining dreams of warm and fuzzy social teas  died in the fire of my rage that day.

Three long years have passed. I have never spoken to any of those now college-aged children again. My family and I did what we could to mop up the damage and prayed the light would come back into our son’s eyes.

Often, I did what I knew I had to do. I’m telling you the ugly truth now: I did it through gritted teeth and a burned out heart.

Oh, fraidy cat, you’ve never seen me like this before have you? I’d never seen me like that either. I can’t wait to tell you the rest of this story.

If you’ve ever swallowed bitter tears while praying for your enemy, the rest of this story is one you might want to read. If you’ve ever choked back the prayer, “You smite ‘em, God, because if you don’t, I will . .  .” I know this one’s for you.

Since I know you love a cliffhanger, see you tomorrow

Luke 6:28 (Amplified Bible)
Invoke blessings upon and pray for the happiness of those who curse you, implore God’s blessing (favor) upon those who abuse you [who revile, reproach, disparage, and high-handedly misuse you].

To read the original story of how bullying affected our family, click here: Fear and Loathing in the Hood

To read Part 2 of Redemption and Forgiveness, click here
Redemption and Forgiveness - Pt. 2

To read the original post about our move to this house, click here:


  1. I am so glad that we are saved by grace because if God loved us based on the actions of our past, I would be barren and dark. May God bring healing to your heart and the hearts of your children. God uses ALL THINGS for His glory. As a product of bullying, I can testify that God is not finished with your family yet and He has an amazing plan for all of you.

    1. Thank you, Tabitha. I had to focus on that truth many a day for my own sake as well as that of the ones who had made life so sad for us. I am so thankful God has let me see this story unfold. I pray that it continues to unfold in a way that honors him because I surely didn't on the saddest day of my life. I'm glad he saw his story and not my heart!

  2. I really wish we could sit and have tea. Your story hits home hard. Bullying is an active of not respecting others... ask me how I know - I'm deemed the Mom of a bully. I've had my child humiliated and screamed at - and I, too...have had names thrown at me as I was told "if you would teach your son different"....and been told to my face "your son is a bully"...while other names were flung at me and my family. The truth of the story is truly only known by God in my case. The 'tea' the time celebrating with cookies being shared - long gone here - as the "bully" becomes bullied and I no longer care what others think - I sit and wait for God to reveal the truth and heal the broken-hearted who has been wounded by this label cast upon him. Irony is - we are all sinful and if bullying is a lack of respect, we are all guilty. I am so sorry for your son and for what you have endured. There is no excuse. If anything, it's fear on the part of others who are afraid of what they don't understand. I witnessed an adult bully a child I sat two feet from at church on Christmas Eve. He's a sweet boy - with aspy the woman had no clue and instead of choosing loving words, she chose hurtful ones - I"m thankful I was there to help share love where hurt was lingering... sorry to leave a long comment.

    1. Oh, dear friend, your post highlights the truth which permeates parenting: it's the hardest, most painful job we will ever do even though it is the most rewarding too. I am looking forward to that tea wherein we can laugh as we do so often but also weep together. Thank you for your transparency in presenting the 'other side' of my story. I think you will love how this one has developed.

  3. What a story. I will be waiting for the next part.

    1. Thank you, Vicki! I'm not going to be quite as quick to post it as I hoped. Life happens. Will get it up asap!

  4. We had a bullying experience in one of our neighborhoods. I will never forget it.

  5. Like Rebecca, I have also been accused of being a mom to a bully. I have been told things I dare not repeat. My son also also been on the end of the bullying part as well. Public school was really rough for my oldest child and I, because it also brought back memories of being laughed at and made fun of because of my weight and being a tomboy. Oh how I would love to sit down with you, pray with you and just visit. Our boys have so many similarities. God, he is faithful and true. He knew what all would happen. I have learned and grown because of this. Looking forward to reading part 2 of your story.

    1. God has surely shown himself faithful to me in so many ways not the least of which was in planting seeds of redemption in our lives via this unfolding chain of events. Being parent is no easy job. I'm so glad for friends who minister to us in time of trial and then rejoice with us over stories like this one! <3

  6. I was captivated by your story. I am one of those "overprotective" moms too. Even my mom says that. If only people knew much we sacrifice to teach them, to shelter them with love and have to take the brunt when the world doesn't understand our children. And yet we trust, God has a big plan here in store. I look forward to the rest of your story

    1. Oh, Christa, what a sweet word 'captivated' is for a writer like me! I am so thankful God led us out of this wilderness into a different experience. Especially because my faith was so lame as we went through it all. I do not know why we were not a statistic as we feared many days that our son would become another victim of bullying related suicide. I hope our story will be one that brings hope to hurting families!