Bullies And God

The Bible has a lot say about bullies. One of the most notable passages is 1 Samuel 17–the account of David and Goliath. We marvel at this story of young boy named David who came up against a (literal giant) bully named Goliath. It is said that Goliath was over 9 feet tall—this is the height of floor to ceiling in many homes.

As we look at some of the verses in this chapter we see interesting parallels to the bullying dilemma. But, first we should note that “bullying” is nothing new to God. In fact, this passage is seen by many scholars as insight into the ultimate bully–Satan–who comes against Jesus the Victorious Shepherd of our Souls.

In verse one we notice the formation of a bullying environment,

“Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled” (v1)

The word gathered has the meaning of building numbers. We can see how this happens in any environment being primed for bullying. Bullies like to form large groups of followers—gatherings of terrorizing proportions. 

One of the ways this is achieved is through bullies cultivating loyalty. Of course, intimidation is the means by which they are successful. Have you ever experienced the strange sense of silence around a bullied person by the community at large? The quest for loyalty influences the group to either join the bullying tactics, or keep quiet. Often, those who keep quiet are not loyal to the bully’s agenda, but stay quiet out of fear of retribution. The famous quote by Martin Luther King might well apply here, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” For a bullied person silence often feels like betrayal. But keep in mind–the silence is a tactic initiated by the bully. The bully wants to disarm their target with a sense of non-support.

Verse four gives us further insight with the word champion. 

“A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine Camp.” (V4)

Interestingly, we often think this story is soley about David and Goliath when in reality it was about the Israelites battle against the Philistines. Goliath was simply a tool, a means to an end. The Philistines are the obvious villains in our story, never-the-less, they were convinced at their reasons for war. This brings us to another persuasive tactic used by villains—bullies playing the victim. They solicit sympathy. It is frustrating, to say the least, if you are the target of this kind bullying tactic. Bullies who hurt others, but portray themselves as the victim, are hoping to siphon sympathies for themselves.

In verse five we gain insight into the man selected as the ace-in-the-hole— Goliath (their pawn).

“He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shackles.” (V5)

Five thousand shekels is about 78 pounds. This bully was big, strong, and armed in the most superior ways. Goliath was definitely what might be considered champion material. His stature itself was superior in nature. It comes as no surprise that bullies thrive on superiority.

Verse eight tells us that the bully, Goliath, verbally accosted the subjects of his bullying.

“Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel” (v8)

Discrediting is another powerful tool bullies use. We noted that loyalty, sense of cause, and superiority can play out powerfully, but now we see discrediting deliver a confusing and disorienting blow upon the psyche of the target. This very effective tactic unglues confidence. Hope begins to fade. No wonder the Israelites shuddered in terror.

Verse eleven gives us a clear picture of the effects of bullying.

“The Israelites were dismayed and terrified.” (V11)

Discrediting naturally causes a bullied victim to question their own narrative. This clever tactic is called gaslighting. Gaslighting is a common technique used by bullies, to not only sway the crowd, but to cause the bullied target themselves to question their own reality. At this point it feels like all is lost. It certainly did to the Israelites.

When young David came onto the scene, his brother, who was apart of the Israelites army, derided his presence. This is another issue that can happen in a bullying circumstance—breakdown from within our own support system.

David who was a sheep herder and had spent lots of time in fields meditating on God, delivered a different narrative that day. It was one of hope in something bigger than the bullies that stood before them—it was God Himself.

Sometimes we are so close to the emotions surrounding a bullying situation that we are unable to see the bigger picture. Yet, this is exactly what we need in a critical onslaught of bullying.

When news of David’s hope made it to the king, the king swiftly put him in the battle. The words David spoke to Goliath in verse forty five instantly changed the bullying climate, as well as, history.

“I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty.” (V45)

David placed complete confidence in the a Lord. David knew that he belonged to God and for the Philistine bully to come against him was to come against God’s people. In fact, it would mean the Philistines were trying to bully God. This perspective empowered David because it was completely reliant on a God’s provision. Amazingly, God had already armed David with the abilities he would need to face this particular giant. Fighting off bears and lions to protect his sheep made him a valiant warrior. David skillfully brought down the bully with a stone and a sling. 

I pray that if you are currently in a bullying situation God would provide you with all the provision and the encouragement you need to face your Goliath.

For more information on the characteristics of a bully visit:

Bullies Demand Loyalty

Bullies Discredit

Bullies Play The Victim

Bullies Gaslight

Bullies Crave Superiority

X Marks The Bully

Bullies Phantom Influence

Bully Proofing

Bullies Phantom Influence

Lingering allegiance to a bully is a common occurrence, even if a bully’s primary position in our life has changed. Similar to phantom pain from a missing a limb–past trauma from a bully can linger into our future.

Because bullying creates deep impressions in the brain, phantom loyalty often carries on long after it should. We feel bound by pledges of loyalty (spoken or unspoken). Our falling-in-line to avoid retaliation (or to gain favor) becomes automatic. We don’t realize we may still be carrying on a bully’s disrespect for ourselves or others treated unfairly. We are swept along by lingering loyalties.

We see this play out in adult children who feel a great sense of loyalty to a bullish parent. Even after the parent is out of the picture, the adult child still feels obligated to their parents wishes and ideas about life. There are feelings of guilt and internal conflict in pursuing a different course of action, or thought.

We can feel confused moving forward. Freeing ourselves requires healthy understanding that it’s “okay” to think differently.

Here are some tips:

1. Identify ways in which you desire to behave differently than the person who has been a controlling influence in your life.
2. Admit (your own) mistakes that were inspired by the bully.
3. If you once said “yes” under pressure, it’s okay to change your mind and say “no”.
3. Seek a trustworthy accountability partner.
4. In taking these steps remember that feelings of guilt are natural part of breaking free. Misplaced loyalty is often driven by guilt—that’s why it has a powerful hold.

*Seeking a qualified counselor may be helpful.

Bully Proofing

Bullies Gaslight

In the article “11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting” published by Psychology Today, gaslighting is described as a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. The article goes on to say that gaslighting is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders.

Applying this thought to a bully’s overall agenda we see how all bullying characteristic works together to achieve one ultimate goal–gaslighting. That is, to create a “believable” false narrative that influences others against their victim. It is sabotage on every level. Onlookers becomes numb and impaired in their judgement. This is because they have drunken, so to speak, from the Kool-Aid of gaslighting.

The brave few who stand up in defense of a victim are quickly cut down to a stump by the gaslighter or their followers. Unfortunately, a gaslighter typically has loyal followers. Utilizing followers is strategic too. They are methodically placed within a bullying scenario to cheer on the bully and brow beat opposers.

For those of us who recognize being in this kind of bullying situation, or a eyewitness to it, we must decisively put down our cup of Kool-Aid. This is a decisive step in combating bullying. We must stop drinking from a narrative that has become convoluted. Even the best minds will have trouble deciphering between what’s true and what’s being deliberately spun. Therefore, the antidote is not found in looking at facts (that may be falsified) but rather character. It all goes back to character. When in doubt character is a safe guide back to reality and wisdom.

For instance, a victim’s narrative may look bleak because it’s been vandalized and discredited by a bully—but their character will always tell a different story. Likewise, a bully’s narrative may look very sleek and well packaged—but their character will always smell of fear and intimidation. In other words, even if a bully’s narrative is convincing joining their camp is a dangerous venture. In the same way they treat others they will eventually treat you.

Do you know someone who is being bullied? If so give them an encouraging wink that lets them know that you are not drinking the Kool-Aid served by bully/gaslighters.

Bully Proofing

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders, which can be identified by either an insufficient or an excessive food intake, are experienced by nearly 5 percent of people worldwide. Research shows that more than 90 percent of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 15-25. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating are the three common eating disorders.

Anorexia is characterized by a fear of becoming overweight. An anorexic person, who is at an average body weight for her height, feels compelled to become thinner in order to feel good about herself. She is intensely driven towards her weight goal, which is manifested in food refusal. To her it is not only about the body image but also about control. Statistics show anorexia often plagues people who have had a history of circumstances being out of control. Interestingly, this condition reveals wonderful strengths when it is properly directed. To be able to set a goal and stay on task to achieve that goal shows great leadership quality. But until these leadership qualities are rewired in spiritually and emotionally healthy directions, these positive character traits will cause negative mental and physical breakdown. 

Bulimia can be characterized by an exaggerated fear of becoming overweight. It differs from Anorexia in that the sufferer lacks self control. The Anorexic takes total control, while the Bulimic loses control and then tries to regain it by vomiting–this is the binging and purging cycle. Statistics show that people who struggle with bulimia have a history of stress and addictive behavioral patterns. Another issue is the double-life it takes on. The bulimic displays themself as healthy to the watching world–yet secretly resorts to an unhealthy habit. Bulimics need help in bringing about a life of balance.

The anorexic and the bulimic typically come from similar backgrounds. They differentiate in that one takes extreme control (which is unhealthy) and the other finds themself out of control. 

Anorexia and Bulimia, although seemingly about appearance, are cries for deeper transformation of the mind and emotions. Join us in exploring difficult emotions that propel eating disorders Faith-Based-Emotional-Sobriety

Anger

Anger is defined as emotional excitement induced by intense displeasure. It is an inflammation in the spirit of a person, and if not curtailed, it can become destructive.

People who struggle with anger finds themselves snapping at slight infractions. When they evaluate the infraction after their temper has settled, they will note that their response was much greater than the infraction necessitated. And although it causes regret, the anger continues to rise when an offense presents itself. 

A person who struggles with anger will notice that the people who are closest to them walk on egg shells. No one knows when they’ll blow or what might be the catalyst–so they are constantly handled with kid gloves.

Unfortunately, anger’s effects are far reaching. If children are the objects of anger, they often suffer silently. Their inward brewing eventually manifests itself in harmful ways as they become adults. If a husband is the object of anger, his manhood is whittled down, and he sometimes escapes through means of secrecy and separation in order to assert his masculinity. Yet around the angry wife, he will continue to exhibit a sense of failure and inability to lead. If a wife is the object of anger she will wither and take on unnecessary blame.

Much of anger’s hold is a matter of pattern. A history of handling offenses in a rash or harsh manner has become an ongoing habit. Therefore, to manage anger will mean making changes in pattern, but this will not be enough to taper its detrimental effects. 

A change of temperament is necessary to combat this damaging emotion that seems to take on a life of its own. However, this can only be done through transformation in the mind. 

God specializes in transforming the mind. A person is not bound by old habits or even old natures. Join us in understanding anger and discovering how we can become even-tempered and gracious people. Faith-Based-Emotional-Sobriety

Mid-Life-Crisis

For women over the age of fifty, sometimes catching the vision for meaning in life does not come easily because we feel drained from transition. All of a sudden we have found ourselves face to face with things like empty nest, divorce, midlife, change or loss of career, aging beauty, death of friends. etc. Projecting possibilities of hope during this time can be difficult if these things catch us by surprise. To top it all off, many times we are not even sure who we are at this stage of life, and an identity crisis sets in. We become discouraged instead of delighted. In fact, we can even feel immobilized by it. So there it sits—the exceptional blooming season of our life—unopened like a large gift package in the corner, and we are perplexed at what to do with it.

We need to know that this time of life does not catch God by surprise. He has foreseen this season and already has it in mind. Psalms 139:13-16 reminds us of this.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Notice the scripture says that all of our days were written long ago—before even one of them came to be—and God already has seen them. We might have thought the prime of our lives was a time now past, like our youth. But God sees our prime as something entirely different. He is interested in the whole picture—the all of our lives. The second half of our lives yields new opportunities that were not available in the first half. In other words, we see our days in terms of what we perceive as our prime, but God sees our days as being unlimited; he sees that we are free to venture beyond our perceived limitations. Read more

“One of the best books I’ve read to date that focuses on the unique challenges of older women in the body of Christ. Her clear understanding of God’s role for us and her beautiful writing voice make this a book I’ll read many times.” -Kate F Eatom

Suicidal Thoughts

Suicide is the act of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally. Suicidal thoughts are intense feelings that affect the emotions and produce thoughts of inability to continue on in life. Suicidal contemplations are the practical considerations of method to carry out the actual act taking one’s life. 

Statistics show that suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide attempts that end in hospitalization are three times higher. Such a large number is proof that “thoughts and contemplations” are of epic proportions. 

Most commonly, those who are thinking about suicide exhibit telling signs. It has been debated whether these signs are a cry for attention or an actual warning. Regardless of the motive it can be agreed that all cries are cries to be rescued. 

Those who feign signs of suicidal tendencies for attention are certainly in need of help. These people do entertain thoughts of suicide, but not to a serious level. Their need to be rescued originates in a compulsive inner craving for attention. It is a different kind of struggle, and its roots can be traced back to deep feelings of inadequacy. The following description does not apply to this type of struggle. 

If you are a person who is genuinely struggling with suicidal thoughts, please know the simple fact that you are reading this is a positive sign. It shows a desire to be rescued from this desperate place in the heart that no one wants to be. 

The person in this position is overwhelmed with a sense that nothing matters any more. They are certain their family would be better off without them. They feels like an emotional burden. Often, they are weighed down even further by feelings of guilt for not being able to pull themself out of this mire. These guilt feelings can make them even more determined to end it all. For this person, everything has lost its value, so there is no motivation or effective tool of recovery except for one thing, and that is the possibility of being rescued. 

Here is the great delivering hope! God can rescue the suicidal person out of this debilitating condition. He alone can give ability where there is no ability. In Psalm 18 we see a glimpse of this heart of inability that is rescued by God’s divine ability. 

“The sorrows of death compassed me…” says the Psalmist in verse 4. But then he tells of his rescue: ” He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.” 

Look at the power in which this rescue was accomplished: “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears. Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved …”(Psalms 18:4-19).

If you are feeling suicidal, you are not alone.

*If you or someone you love is struggling with suicidal thoughts right now, please call this hotline to let someone know about your pain: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433). 

Stuck In Brokenheartedness

Struggling with a broken heart over a failed relationship is one of the hardest challenges a person can face. The wound may feel like physical pain, as though your heart physically aches–no wonder it’s described as being “heartsick.” 

One of the primary fears that plagues a brokenhearted person is that they will never find this kind of love again. This pain often motivates propels them to desperately hold on.

Also there is denial. In this scenario the brokenhearted person cannot bear to accept the relationship is over, even if little to no interest is shown on the other side. 

A heartsick person will keep a dead or dying relationship alive by re-living the sweet moments and repeating proclamations of “initial” mutual feelings over and over in their mind. If there was intimacy involved there is an even deeper attachment.

The thought of their ex-partner sharing similar experiences with another increases efforts to win back affections. It can cause the brokenhearted person to compromise standards, even acting obsessively. “It’s because I love them,” they exclaim, justifying the behavior as an act of true love. They feel desperately stuck, holding out hope of reconciliation.

If you are reading this while currently in a season of heartbreak, you probably can relate to some of the anguish described. You must know that you are not alone. This is a very real heartache, and it requires strength and wisdom from the Lord to get through. 

Please remember that you are the same person your ex-partner was initially enamored with. Just because they have moved on does not make you less valuable. A break-up naturally causes havoc to the human psyche. It makes us feel a myriad of negative and discouraging feelings about ourselves. These feelings and emotions may feel very strong, but are temporary and do not define who we are. Join us in navigating this difficult season of emotional upheaval. Faith-Based-Emotinal-Sobriety

Stuck In A Toxic Relationship

Understanding Addiction

Addiction is defined as the quality of being addicted. It is the compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance. Not all dependence is hard addiction; some areas are considered habituation, which also takes into account stimulants such as nicotine, caffeine, and some psychological issues. However, in hard addiction the effects are physically recognizable in the body. 

Hard addiction exhibits itself by producing tolerance and physical dependence on a habit-forming substance. When the body is challenged by the substance, it will make the corresponding adjustments (biochemical, physiological, and psychological) to meet this challenge. At this point, the body responds by requiring the continued presence of the foreign substance to maintain normal function. Even though the body continues to depend on the substance, the tolerance and duration of the effects shrink, requiring the individual to take the drug either more often or in greater amounts to achieve the effect desired. Ultimately, the individual has a very high level of drug use with a correspondingly high level of tolerance. 

This is why addicts find themselves in deteriorating conditions. The addict is driven both by compulsion of the mind and desperation of the body. 

Is there hope? Absolutely! Since the mind and the body are intricately related, we must consider both in light of God’s Word when dealing with addiction. 

Scripture explains that there is a hunger and thirst in the human heart that cannot be quenched except by the Spirit of God. Scripture also says that the heart mistakenly seeks to quench this hunger and thirst by the means of this world. Since hunger and thirst affect both mind and body, we can see how the dynamics of addiction takes shape. When the spirit of a person is anxious, hurting, oppressed, or in any form of want, it is compelled to relieve or stimulate itself through the senses of the body. 

The physical senses are a powerful influence that instinctively demand attention when the mental, emotional, or psychological systems are craving it. The drive for relief or happiness is seen in every human heart to varying degrees. For the Christian, the secret to true and lasting happiness is accomplished through the filling of the Spirit. For those who are not walking in the Spirit, the pursuit of happiness is found in the filling of the spirit (the “spirit” with a lower case “s”). A spirit filling rather than a Spirit filling results in false happiness and continued craving. In every human heart, one of these (the Spirit or the spirit) will be deprived and the other attended to. The outcome of that choice will be evident, especially in the addict.

Obsession In Relationship

Obsession, according to the dictionary is a compulsive fixation with an idea causing excessive preoccupation. A person can tell if they struggle with obsession in the area of relationship simply by taking inventory of their thought life. If they observe that their mind continues to be fixed on a desired person, then obsession might be the problem. They may mistake this feeling for love, but it is not. 

Desperation is the word that may best describe this feeling of being preoccupied with someone who either is not as interested, or is not a healthy person to be in a relationship with. It is gripping and overwhelming to say the very least. It can pervade almost every hour of a person’s day. It can hold them prisoner and convince them that life without this person would be miserable. They feel almost certain they will never feel this way again.

Does this sound uncomfortably familiar? You might be surprised to know that millions of people struggle with this condition of the heart. If you are a Christian you might wonder how this can happen.

Interestingly, there are many reasons that this condition of the heart can develop and even flourish in the heart of a Christian. One may be the imposition of “faith” to be with the person we so strongly desire. We believe that if we pray hard enough or exercise enough faith it will happen. Our minds are often drawn to verses or signs we attribute to this desire, which fuels it even further. We want the relationship so desperately that we erroneously see our efforts as faith driven, rather than the obsessive nature it really is.

If you are a person who identifies with this struggle we invite you to join us in understanding what true and healthy love looks like. 

It’s easy to forget this amidst bouts of insecurity and feelings of unworthiness. Many people simply cannot believe that they are valuable, even to God, especially if they think they have let God down in the area of relationship. So, they resign themselves to pursue the wrong person regardless of rejection, giving in to the misery that accompanies this state of mind. 

God may have even brought this to your attention for this very purpose. Perhaps, it’s time to do the hard, but beneficial work of mental and emotional re-wiring in this area. Faith-Based-Emotional Sobriety

Stuck In A Toxic Relationship