I was born in the early eighties. You can bet I watched Back to the Future about a thousand times growing up. “Make like a tree and get out of here” was one of the humorous lines from the film’s antagonist, Biff Tannen. Biff was a bully and thought he ruled Hill Valley High School and frequently made life difficult for George McFly. Biff may have been a bit of a buffoon, but I know that each one of us has our own Biff Tannen.
Regardless of whether or not you were bullied in school or are an adult being bullied by a coworker, neighbor, etc we all have a bully that we deal with. You hear them the most during quiet times or when an important decision needs to be made. You hear them when you make a mistake or succeed at something. Their voice rings loud when the voices of others around you are silent.
Your bully is a part of you. It’s the way the enemy whispers in your ear that you’re worthless. It’s how he reminds you that you’re a failure and no one will care for you. It’s the enemy’s whisper of “you will never be anything so don’t even try”.
I know I hear that voice, especially in the moments that I’m alone and things are quiet. Facing a challenge and commuting 40 minutes home from work. Trying to figure out how to do x, y or z and hearing that I’ll just fail while laying awake in the morning and trying to get myself up and ready for the day. Hearing how no one could ever love me or care about me in those dark hours in the early morning when I can’t seem to fall asleep.
The voice echoes through my head, trying to get me to second guess myself at each and every turn. Every time I have to decide which bill to pay, if a car repair is within my skill set, what I should write here and even for fun stuff like fishing (if I”m not catching anything for a while, I get to hear about how much I suck at fishing and why even bother trying). There seems to be very little escape in the quiet moments. I can’t go too far to get away, since the voice is inside of me.
What makes it even more hurtful is that the voice sounds just like yours. It doesn’t sound like the enemy (what does he even sound like anyway), it sounds just like you. The voice is the same as all of your other thoughts, including the good ones. That makes it so hard to know if it’s really you or someone trying to hurt you.
Why would I think that the enemy is trying to be a bully? Why couldn’t it really just be me believing that I’m not good enough? Because God thinks that I’m good enough. God speaks life into us and has chosen us to be His people. We all have the ability to have a heart after God and to do His will, regardless of how we feel about ourselves. God chose to come down to earth, live as you and I (but in a more perfect way), feel our struggles, be betrayed, tortured, humiliated and executed just so that He could pay our debt and we could be with Him in eternity!
I don’t think that God would do that for someone He thinks is “worthless” and he doesn’t think that ANYONE is worthless because we are all made in His image. He doesn’t want to keep us down, He wants to build us up spiritually and emotionally. The enemy tries to “steal, kill and destroy” us in any way that he can, including our own thoughts. He tries to bully us away from God’s perfect love. He tries to keep us separated from God in order to hurt God.
Our bully isn’t trying to be a tough guy in front of a group of people to look cool, instead he plays behind the scenes in order to bring us to the fire. He wants us to go to hell and burn instead of being in God’s presence for even a moment. He’s not some jerk that had a difficult life and tries to take it out on people that are physically weaker, he just wants to watch the whole world burn.
So what can we do to show our bully that we’re not scared? That’s the hard part. With your normal bully, all you have to do is stand up and show them you’re not afraid any more. With the enemy, He’s going to come back again. And again. And again….. Especially when your faith is getting stronger. You have to speak God’s promises into his lies. You have to call on Jesus to protect your heart and spirit from his attacks. You have to be ready for war.
But you first need to be able to identify when it’s the bully attacking you. Whenever you hear about not being loved, not being worth anything, being a failure, the futility in trying to do something, and just negativity in general, it’s the lies of the enemy trying to bring you to a place where you begin to lose your faith in God and His love for you. God isn’t negative. God speaks good things into your life and heart. He wants to lift you up and make you feel that you’re strong at heart because of your faith. God wants you to succeed (although it may not be at getting into the NBA or becoming a billionaire, sometimes He has other plans for success in your life). God is that good friend that is there for you after the bully messes with you. The one that sees the pained expression on your face and tries to build you up to go stand up to that bully, that lets you know they think you’re amazing!
Once you can identify when it’s the bully attacking you and tearing you down, speak God’s truths into that moment. Call out the bully for what he is, a liar! There’s an expression that goes “You have to name it to tame it” in the mental health world. Whatever you want to call your bully is up to you. Perhaps something humorous might help you feel a bit braver in those moments. Coincidentally, I’ve been calling mine Biff because of what an idiot Biff is in those movies. It gives me a little more courage to face him in those moments and remember that he’s just a big, dumb jerk and I can send him careening into that back of a manure truck while driving a convertible with the roof down.
That has helped me to have a bit of a respite from my bully. I still hear the voice, but I take it much less seriously most of the time. I’m able to see that it’s a lie meant to “steal, kill and destroy” my relationship with the God who loves me enough to do everything He could to defeat death to save me. I may not have all of the answers or skills to deal with everything that comes my way in life, but I know that God has my back through it all and things will work out just fine, even if I may hear a voice telling me otherwise.
What’s your bully’s name?