This has been an interesting week! Blessings and challenges have been all around me.
Morgan and I pray every night and ask God what he wants us to do and how we can change the culture of bullying. We look for his whisperings and for messages sent from others to know what his plans are for us. He has certainly given us courage and the strength to do some pretty powerful stuff. We have reached thousands of kids through educational offerings at our schools and our story has been told across the country. We have engaged people and kept this important conversation alive. We have told our story and the stories of others in hopes that it would give those suffering in silence the courage to ask for help. And we have fought for what is right.
Having said that, over these past three years, I have found that advocacy work is not for the weak of heart and it can be an incredibly sad and lonely place. Since the first day of our own bullying experience to this very day, I have seen and experienced intimidation as a tool used to stop the family of those who have been bullied from speaking, from sharing their story. In fact, it was that very experience for us that continues to drive us to continue our work. We remember what that feels like. We remember how afraid and alone we felt.
There seems to be so much fear wrapped around this issue that somehow the focus becomes protecting a school or a person to the point that we lose sight of helping a child in crisis. The bullied child, and sometimes their family, is put on trial and we hear about “two sides to every story.” We look for reasons not to help that child. We look for ways to protect ourselves instead.
I always wonder why we don’t just help the child. How do we not see the value of doing so? Isn’t it the right thing to do? How does that put anyone’s reputation at risk?
We always question whether we are making a difference, and we always challenge ourselves to do more. On a week like this one, I question if I really am an advocate. Am I willing to put my fears aside? Am I ok with making someone uncomfortable or even mad at me for the sake of a child I don’t even know?
I always seek guidance on questions like these from people that I know are smarter than me. I talked to my friend about balancing winning the battle and not the war. She wisely reminded me that, for the child I was trying to help, this IS a war. He is trying to survive after a suicide attempt and he needs to know someone believes him. I realized as soon as I heard her words that every time someone reaches out to us, it’s because they feel engulfed in a war they think they can’t win. They call us because they are desperate and are hoping that we have a different answer for them. That is God talking to me.
And so, we are in it to make a difference. We won’t let fear or intimidation stop us from doing what is right. We won’t succumb to systems and “important” people who try to silence us. We know we are doing the right thing for the right reasons. We have nothing to gain, and the only reward is knowing someone feels safe, valued, and heard.