A Lesson. In Peace.

An important lesson was learned today. I’m almost 30 years old and today, I was bullied. A good friend of mine was bullied first, and when I stood up to defend her, this person turned their ire on me. This person is at least twice my age–the mother of my best friend’s husband. I would normally look up to a person with this much worldly experience, but I cannot respect them now. The rudeness spewed made me incredibly angry. I was actually shaking with anger at the dreadful things written about my friends and me. Who has the right to say such mean things, things that are only meant to cause pain?

It started because my friend posted a photo on Facebook of people in Ferguson, MO burning a couple American flags in a big bonfire. I’m a military kid, and flag burning is up there on my shortlist of easy ways to get into Hell. Another friend, however, was trying to see the other side of things. She wanted people to know that the flag burners were probably not making a military commentary with their incendiary act–she was not condoning it, just trying to see both sides of an issue and politely discuss it. She was respectful and logical and eloquent. My ire was sparked, though, when my friend’s mother came out speaking against my friend and suggested that she leave the country for not being patriotic.

I will always defend my friends when someone tries to hurt them. Standing idly by while they’re in pain isn’t something I can do. I told her to stop bullying my friend–she is patriotic but she is also respectful of other opinions and isn’t that why America is the best country? Agree with her opinions or not, that is no reason to tell her to leave this country. Your opinions are welcome here. That’s why we have an American dream.

This bully then attacked me for sticking up for my friend and went right for the thing that she knew would hurt me the most. My best friend and I had some drama but we worked hard to overcome it. We pushed ourselves to move past it and if that is good enough for us, it should be good enough for the rest of the world, right? Well, yes and no. The people closest to us were upset when we stopped being friends, and so they must have some feelings about our resolution, it is only natural. But to lash out and attack me and call me a bad friend–was that necessary? No. It was an immature low blow meant to belittle me.

I should not have let her upset me. I knew she was trying to hurt me and I let her. Worrying about what someone so inconsequential to my life thinks about me should be a non-issue. I lead a meaningful productive life and I am content with the blessings I’ve been given. I do work hard to do the right thing, whether that means trying to be more patient when I’m in the long grocery store line or donating my time to charities as much as I can. I want to be a good person–one day I want my kids to look up to me. Being a good person means taking the lessons my parents taught me to heart. Standing up for myself was just one of them. Another though, was not being rude. It is difficult to work with both of those at the same time. I have tried, however, to think before I speak.

The other lesson I learned was one I thought I knew but it really came home today. I am an incomplete person. If I was complete, I’d be dead. God isn’t finished with me yet. I’m still learning to deal with the world around me. This world is a mix of good things and bad things and sometimes the bad things outweigh the good things, but I don’t need to add to someone’s pile of bad things. Why didn’t I just ignore her comments? I was hurt and I just reacted instead of acting more responsibly. I do not regret standing up for my friend when she was being treated poorly. I do not regret telling my friend’s mother that she was being rude and her comments were unnecessary. I love my friends and I hope I never just sit back and let people run over them. But I should not respond in kind. The phrase “turn the other cheek” comes to mind. As I said, it is hard to be polite in defense of some wrong I see that should be corrected. But maybe it isn’t my job to correct the poor behaviour of everyone I see. I’m lucky that my parents worked so hard to raise me with good values and manners and grace and poise and intellect. I am trying to live up to them; that’s the best I can do.

Bullies will always go for what they think will hurt you most, even those things that you thought couldn’t hurt you anymore. “Turning the other cheek” is really hard to do, especially when you know they were only trying to hurt you. I thought bullies were for grade school but adults can be cruel too. I hope next time someone is this terribly rude to me, I won’t take their bait and let them hurt me. I also hope that person will find peace in their hearts so they won’t try to hurt the people I care about.

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