This grown woman was hard as rock — an adult mean girl. Rude and disrespectful, hurtful and heartbreaking, her actions were made worse because of her target – her own mother. “She yells at her,” my friend said. “Her mom has Alzheimer’s, and when the mom forgets things or does something ‘wrong,’ her daughter just lets her have it, putting her down, screaming at her.” My friend then got quiet. “It breaks my heart.”
I listened, knowing one way to describe what she was witnessing – elder abuse, which depending on how far it goes can be ruled not just emotional assault but a crime. Yet such abuse isn’t the focus of this post.
Instead, I want to shine light on the hardened daughter’s heart issue: she is, sadly, a bully. Also, clearly, she is hurting. A lot of families have hurting bullies, and what do they need most? They need love.
Just ask King David. Yes, you probably already know his story.
David’s home life was something of a wreck. First came that mess with Bathsheba. Later, his son Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar, then disgraced her by rejecting her.
Then, enter Absalom. While taking the damaged Tamar into his home as a safeguard, he waited for his father David to rebuke Amnon. Instead, David did nothing, enraging Absalom, who took matters into his own hands – ordering his solders to kill Amnon, which they did.
Blood on his hands, Absalom still wasn’t satisfied. He cooked up a plot to take over David’s kingship, which didn’t end well, not for Absalom anyway. Later, when David was aging and weak, another son Adonijah also rebelled, but Solomon, as king, had Adonijah killed, securing his own reign.
Talk about family drama. David mourned it all, sobbing after Absalom’s death, “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom!”
But despite it all, David still loved his boy. And most families, indeed, still love their rebels, even the bullies.
Thus, what did David do? He prayed. And his prayer – as Absalom pursued him – offers an intriguing approach to handling family tugs of war, especially now during the angst of the ongoing virus battle, but also all year long.
Thus, David didn’t pray for a quick fix. Or, for a change of heart in his son. Instead, David did what any troubled kin member should do. He turned to his first love – his Hope, His help, our God. As David wrote:
I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and salvation,
my fortress where I will never be shaken.
Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT)
David didn’t hurl up words about his maddening son. He also didn’t tussle with Absalom. He didn’t growl at the dinner table, argue politics, debate medical tactics, or trade barbs, toss out put downs, or stir up a shouting match.
Instead, for better or worse, David kept his focus on the Lord, reminding himself:
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT)
David put it this way in Psalm 63, “I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings” (v. 6-7). Declaring trust in God, David reminds us to focus our perspective on the One whose “strong right hand holds me securely” (v. 8).
While we hold on, we continue to pray for our family members – for all in our kin circle, whether estranged or easygoing, agreeable or hard-edged.
First, run to God. Yes, rest in Him. Indeed, hold onto Him. Then hang on as if life, and your family, depend on Him – because they do.
Thus, for your hardest family members, ask the Lord to bless them, to be awakened to His grace, mercy, love, power – and sweetness. Then, as you lay down your hurts or fears concerning your loved one at Jesus’ feet, remember this: leave them with Him.
When we have bullies in our families, we must turn to our first love – our Hope, our help, our God. -@PatriciaRaybon: Click To Tweet