Pouting Peter

So much effort is now spent developing solutions to the problem of children bullying each other. I think perhaps the issue is more rooted in the soul than we might realize. I confess, I have been, at times, a spiritual bully. I bet you have too. The person we bully is God Himself. If we can get this plank out of our own eyes, we might be better equipped to build peaceful bridges between children in conflict.

Think about it. A bully is someone who often deep down feels inadequate, who copes by taking advantage of someone else. It’s true, each of us are weak. Rather than acknowledging that weakness in true humility before God, we cope by taking advantage of His self-imposed vulnerability.

Probably the most obvious tactic we use is the “spiritual shakedown”. We corner God in our quiet time and make our demands. We call them prayers. We rattle off our list in a tone that sounds devotional, but with an expectation that He will do my will. We want way more than His lunch money. Invisible slavery is what we are going for. He said, if we ask we will receive. We ask and we expect results. If not, then he must face our disappointment and threats.

We threaten God? Well, we place conditions on the relationship. We allow selfishness to dominate how we relate to Him. We get upset when He doesn’t do what we ask (tell) Him to do and we show it through a reactive attitude that hurts others, that we feel justified in, because God did not make life better for me yet. We beat Him up with our angry outbursts toward our spouse, impatience with our children, or grudges held silently toward estranged friends. We might feel bad about it later and say, “Sorry,” to them, but do we even think about an apology to Him?

Actually, we mostly ignore Him unless or until we think He might be useful to us. He’s not really on our radar for most of the time until there is something we expect Him to do or fix. And if we have been faithfully praying for a long time, the expectations we put on Him are huge. “I’ve been patient, God, where are my blessings?!” Then, if He seems to refuse to cooperate, we hit Him with a punch in the gut. We decide not to trust Him or love Him anymore because all the prayers don’t work anyway.

Most sadly, our spiritual bullying too often shows that we don’t even realize we are hurting Him. We refuse to see or take responsibility for the harm. We deny any wrongdoing. We are good at rationalizing and talking our way out of our part of the problem. We can’t see the situation from His point of view.  He deserves what He gets because even though He is God, He just takes it.

So, what’s the program for reforming us spiritual bullies?

open hands

A humbled heart. (Of course.)

Choosing spiritual virtue to be the channel through which we approach God changes how we treat Him…and everyone else. It’s amazing how sincere Faith, Hope and Charity toward God can transform us.  Believing that He always offers what is best to us, trusting that He hides some of the biggest blessings in the painful stuff, and Loving Him no matter what…cures our bullying and opens our hearts to His life and love growing in us beyond anything we can ask or expect. And I bet, when our souls are healed of this nasty habit, teaching children the virtues that heal the bullying they struggle with will come easier also.