Encourage: To inspire with courage and hope (The Merriam Webster Dictionary – copyright 1994)
This word is heavy on my heart today, for I heard yesterday about a young boy who went missing enroute to school. Luckily, he was found last night and brought safely home by his father. The boy has been the victim of bullying. An ugly word. An ugly act.
Children learn early how to be cruel. Innocent teasing. It happens in families, among friends, but it can reach farther and become more sinister. It’s like an evil snake that weaves a spell and squeezes the life from the both the bullier and the target. Self-esteem is destroyed. When fragile souls are developing, they are vulnerable. The snake strikes, biting and creating holes that allow evil to invade and devour.
God created each of us as individuals, each of us different, each of us beautiful, in His image. Yet we seek to be like the “popular” crowd. Some of us make it, some stand on the sidelines weeping inside and become easy targets. To be part of the “in” group, one can’t be different. Each must be part of the entity, to act, speak, and think as one. If one person pokes fun, all must poke fun. This is how the group gains its strength and grows into an ugly reptile bent on destruction.
I was one of the “different” persons. I was there as a child. As a teenager. And as an adult. I made poor decisions because of my perceived self-worth and only through the grace of God have I been redeemed.
When the soul is eaten away with the pain of being different, encouragement from the few who offer it can help repair the damage. But, truly the encouragement needs to come from within. The soul needs encouragement, hope, belief, faith, and a lot of courage.
I don’t know the little boy’s history. I don’t know what his family life is like. I only know the pain of being different. Even now I suffer from bouts of low self-esteem. Most of that is because Satan likes to find that vulnerable spot inside and place doubt. Only by realizing what is happening can I thwart the attack.
My prayer today is for the family and the community of this child to reach out in love and acceptance. To offer encouragement…hope…love…and courage to be proud of being different. I pray for God’s love to fill the broken spirit, for His arms to reach out and embrace, for an outpouring of prayer not only for those who suffer from bullying but for those who do so.