I remember the first time I witnessed a bully in action. I don’t even know when I understood people could bully others. Bullies were not part of my childhood. I was not to be a bully, nor was I to be bullied. Life and humans were precious, and from God. Learned this early and regularly. Learned it in my home; learned it in church; learned it until it became part of the very pulse beat of my life.
In my family, the call for community service, leadership and God were taught and shared. We are what we see as much or more than what we are taught or read. The older I get, the more I appreciate the lessons I learned from my parents, my Grandpa John, other adults and as my family knelt together in prayer every night before bedtime.
The first time I saw a bully in action was the first time I took action. I was on a public city bus when an elderly, confused woman boarded. Right away she voiced uncertainty. She asked the bus driver the stops on this bus route. He turned to her and said several truly ugly things. She began to weep.
I was out of my seat and next to him in an instant. I asked if he wanted his mother, his daughter, any woman he cared about treated in that cruel manner. I think I threw in God. The other passengers were silent; so silent I could almost breathe it. I found out where the woman needed to be, told him, and must have remained near her because I do not remember sitting the rest of my trip.
When I got off, he let loose, expressing sorrow for any man who had to live with me or be in my presence. His language was colorful. I was not intimidated.
Bullies still do not intimidate me. I once prayed fervently that God would put lots of confrontation in my way so I would not run like a scared rabbit when it mattered, that I would stand my ground for what was right.
And I did that at a meeting last night. However, I did it in a different way. I did not stand and confront. I did not respond to the angry shouts spewing out of a man in a non-stop torrent of ugliness. He shouted at me. He hollered at another woman. He yelled at any one who tried to get him to calm down and stop shouting. This man is in leadership. I was chairman of this meeting. The louder this out of control leader got, the quieter and calmer I became.
I thought about God and gifts and opportunities of leadership and service. I thought about the important task of this committee, work that will impact every household in our 55 plus mobile home park. I fought the tears that wanted to spill. I grieved for everyone in that room, especially for the man who had now revealed himself to be an angry bully. I hoped my 79-year-old husband would keep his response verbal and not physical because I could see how upset he was over all this. Today, he says he is so disappointed, disillusioned, sad. He genuinely liked this man who had transformed into something slightly scary.
I am grieving. I am determined to work with this group of volunteers to reach an important goal that benefits the whole. I prayed and God reminded me He is sovereign. It is God who has his almighty hand on those in leadership, be it a nation or a small committee in a small mobile home park. Peace is seeping into my sadness, lifting away, as I hand over to God, what is God’s.
He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; (Daniel 2:21)