Bullying. It’s something hundreds of kids go through at school. It’s something hundreds of kids are intentionally and sometimes unintentionally encouraging. Even though schools try to stop it, it’s that issue that never seems to cease.

Who’s to Blame?

Kids who are bullied often question how they’re to blame. They try to find a way to fix themselves, believing that it’ll stop the mistreatment. But when their plan backfires, the same questions return to their melting pot of thoughts: What did I ever do wrong? What if they were getting picked on? How would they feel? It’s not unusual to think these thoughts, and it’s not unusual to be a victim.

I was a victim.

Throughout preschool and elementary school, I attended a private Christian academy. And ever since first grade, girls disliked me. Whether it was resentment because I made good grades or jealousy because I hung out with their best friend, they simply refused to express any kind of genuine kindness. Of course, that sort of best friend drama was normal for little girls. For first graders, situations got pretty extreme. On one occasion, a girl ordered her sister to threaten to beat me up on the playground simply because she believed I was stealing her best friend.

Although measures weren’t always this life-threatening, girls and even some guys never ceased to have a problem with me. To make matters worse, due to the school’s small size, my class generally consisted of the same people each year, so naturally, the bullying continued.

Mistreatment Medley

It wasn’t until fifth and sixth grade that the mistreatment medley really boiled out of the pan. During those years, my mother taught certain subjects to my class, and as soon as my mom scribbled an unacceptable”grade on one of my classmate’s papers, I became the punching bag. Girls gathered in the bathroom to gang up on me. People pretended to like me just long enough to ask me for help with grammar or math. I eventually lost my best friend to the class who loathed me; I lost all friends and even a part of who I was. Soon I was having outbursts in class or telling someone off because I couldn’t tolerate it anymore. I had no way of releasing my anger except through channels of public outburst and—in secret—tears.

A Change of Scenery

After sixth grade, though, I was able to escape the Christian academy by transferring to a public K-8 school. From the moment I stepped on campus, I was a different student. Not once did I have an outburst. Classmates didn’t dislike me for succeeding. But I wasn’t everyone’s best friend either; I did face issues with people, but we found mature ways to deal with our differences. Through that school, I was able to skip the eighth grade and develop some of the greatest relationships that continue to inspire me today.

The Darts

You see, my mother always told me that God has a purpose for me; she was absolutely right. The devil knew it too; therefore, I believe he tried to destroy that purpose. But my God stood in front of me while the devil threw his darts. Though some of them did wound me, God kept them from destroying me. What the devil intended for evil, God took and turned it to my advantage. He paired the darker scenes from the early years of my life with the brighter middle years to construct a wheelchair of experiences that rolled me into a more advanced mindset—one that had no ambiguity.

Faithful Friend

I was never sure of the true purpose of the bullying phase of my life until just recently, at the age of sixteen. God used those instances to lay down a foundation of trust in Him at a young age so that I could be reminded of his faithfulness whenever I faced bigger trials. In those moments, I had not a single friend to help me through my hurt except for One.

Even as a child, I knew He was my friend and that He was walking right beside me along that narrow path. He completely reshaped my character from an anger-driven, outburst-prone kid into a young adult who has truly known a relationship with Him and loves to spread the joy of God.

The World We Live In

Regarding bullies: There will always be people who mistreat you. That’s the world we live in. All I know for sure is that everyone needs forgiveness and mercy, even when they don’t deserve it. God forgave me and showed me mercy when I didn’t deserve it because He loved me. He has asked me to do the same for others that they may know Him as well. And, just as I prayed to God for faith and hope during my battles, I pray that my expression of God’s love toward those who mistreated me would cause their hearts to change so that they can catch a glimpse of my amazing God.

No one is alone in the battle against bullying. Like I said, hundreds of kids experience it in some form or fashion. All you have to do is remember that your Creator is the only one who defines you. Neither people, circumstances nor bullying can place a label on you. In times of trial, hold these two keys in your hand in order to remain strong: trust in Him and love others. That is how you win not only the battle but also the war.

I am a conqueror in Jesus Christ—that is how He defines me.