The Morning Offering- 2/20/2022

The Morning Offering

By: Abbot Tryphon • February 20, 2022

More and more frequently we read about children taking their own lives, having reached a place where they would rather be dead than live another hour suffering from bullying. Too often parents and teachers have ignored the problem of bullying, dismissing it as nothing more than “kids will be kids”, and “kids can be cruel”.

One of the worst experiences I had as a kid took place in the country club dining room of the golf course where my dad was a pro. On Women’s Day (Thursday) during the weekly dinner for female members of the golf club. My mom was cooking her usual fabulous meal, and I was waiting tables. As I was pouring coffee for the women at one of the large round tables, one of them addressed me with a question. She asked how I could be so homily given that my mom was so beautiful, and my dad was so handsome. You can imagine the terrible impact this had on a child of fourteen. I remember turning red with embarrassment and hurrying back to the kitchen. My mom asked me what had happened, but I wouldn’t tell her for fear things would get even worse. Not only was I deeply hurt by the words of this woman (the mother of a fellow public school student), but perhaps even more devastated by the fact that not one of the women at that table followed me into the kitchen with words of support. This made me assume that every one of these women agreed with their friend who’d so viciously attacked me.

When I taught high school, I had my personal favorites. These were high school students who were bright, challenging, and a joy to teach. Juxtaposed to these young people were students who were perhaps slow learners, less attractive, and, in a nutshell, a pain to deal with. Yet, I also knew that each one of them had potential that needed to be encouraged, and that anyone of them could be a late bloomer, and could, with help and attention, succeed beyond anyone’s expectation.

As a teacher, I NEVER put up with bullying of any sort. The first sign of bullying, I would take the bully aside, and make it perfectly clear that this was behavior that would not be tolerated. I remember to this very day a middle school teacher who bullied me, and because this was done in front of my classmates, he encouraged children to bully me, as well. I suffered from dyslexia during a time when little was known about this learning disability, so, like other dyslexics, I was a poor student. My own struggle to compensate made me a public speaker who rarely needed a manuscript, and this translated into my becoming a champion high school and college debater.

Because I also grew tall (6″1″) in a very short period of time, I was uncoordinated as a junior and senior high school student, so was poor in sports. It was not until college that I actually discovered athletic abilities that had previously remained dormant, and took up weight lifting, long-distance running, baseball, and volleyball. As a high school teacher, I led the faculty in winning, for the very first time, the traditional volleyball game against the senior class, much to the delight of the underclassman.

Children are all wonderful gifts from God, who are pliable and open, ready to learn from the adults who are their parents, teachers, pastors, and neighbors. They depend on us for comfort and support, AND protection. They are in our care, and God expects us to take this responsibility very seriously. They are the future of our country, our Church, and our world, and must be taught the importance of being kind and generous towards others.

The child that is raised in the ways of the Lord, will in turn raise his/her child in the ways of God. Let us not pass on the sins and failures one generation into the generations to come. Let peace, love, justice, and charity be the hallmark of what we pass on to the next generation, and let us, most importantly, instill in our children the love of Christ.

I believe having been bullied as a child is what contributed to me being a man who has a heart for others. My years on the debate team helped me develop skills that ultimately led to academic success in college and graduate school, as I was able to overcome the negative impact of dyslexia. That I rarely use notes when speaking publicly, or giving sermons during Liturgy, is directly linked to having compensated for dyslexia that so negatively impacted my years as a school child.

My prayer is that any young person suffering from bullying, either by classmates or adults, will know that these hurtful and terrible experiences can be the yeast for becoming a truly loving human being who has a heart for everyone. These sorrowful moments can serve as the foundation for a profitable life of service to others, as well as service to the Lord God. Remember, some of the most successful people in our world were bullied as children.

 

With Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photos from the Academy