By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
My family and I watched ‘Tagged’, a Canadian movie on CTV about Jonathan Wamback, a 16 year old boy who was mercilessly bullied, beaten and left for dead. Repeatedly kicked in the head with steel-toe boots, Jonathan’s skull was shattered, and he almost died three times on the way to surgery. After spending his 16th summer in a coma, he miraculously gradually recovered. When Jonathan was well enough, he had this overwhelming desire to go back to the very high school where he had been so badly bullied and rejected. This gripping movie ends with Jonathan courageously walking back into school like a wounded bird that would not go away. Nothing could separate Jonathan from his school.
Watching the re-enactment of Jonathan being kicked in the head brought back vivid memories of myself being kicked in the head at the same age while surrounded by a frenzied gang. Fortunately for me, I was able to jump on my 10-speed Pugeot and escape before it was too late. But my ears ached and rang for days after that. Ashamed, separated, and slimed by that bullying, I never told my parents until years later.
Years later I now realize that I had nothing to be ashamed of, and in fact could just as easily have ended up in hospital like Jonathan Wamback. Bullying kills. Bullying shames. Bullying steals life and joy from others.
I thank God for Jonathan Wamback who would not let bullies separate him from his school and his friends. Bullying can so easily fill us with fear and bitterness. It can so easily separate us from the most important things in our life.
Until I could forgive my attacker, I was actually in bondage to him spiritually and emotionally. Once I could begin to forgive him, I began to be free. I learnt that unforgiveness and bitterness is like a wall that separates people from our life. My desire for revenge created a spiritual apartheid that left me cut off and shut down. When I met Jesus Christ in Grade 12, I experienced such forgiveness and joy that my family initially worried about me. Later they came to see that this new inner peace was more than one more passing fad. The wall of emotional apartheid, created by bullying, was gone.
This amazing inner peace has taught me that nothing can separate me from those I love. Nothing can separate me from those who care for me. Nothing can separate me from the things that really matter in life. Nothing can separate me from my faith and deepest values. I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38). No bully, no bitterness, no bigotry can rob me of love, can rob me of faith, can rob me of forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
My prayer for those reading this article is that nothing will separate us from the amazing love of God found in Jesus Christ.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News
-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada
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