“Ask a Priest: May I Unload on Bullies From the Past?”

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Q: I graduated high school recently and was wondering if I ever see my high school bullies, is it OK to cuss them out? It doesn’t feel right for me just to ignore them. I was a shy girl, and I never did or said anything mean to these people in the first place. And since no one is telling me how to deal with bullies, I want to go all in — is that fine? Thank you. – Amanda

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It would be better to forgive the bullies and move on.

Jesus tells us to forgive others, just as God forgives our sins.

Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:14-15 are worth remembering: “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

You don’t want the memory of their bullying you to drag you down. You don’t want to give them that “victory.” You can do better than that.

In any case, bullies can end up very sad people if they don’t change.

But people can change. Even bullies can change and become better people over the years. They can mature and see the errors of their past.

It’s not a bad idea to assume that they were immature and insecure at the time and might have been wrestling with lots of issues and not aware of how they impacted others. To paraphrase the wise words of Jesus, “Father, forgive them, they knew not what they did.”

In any case, forgiving them will take a load off your shoulders. For the damage we do to ourselves through unforgiveness is usually far greater than the damage that others have done to us.


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  1. OOOH such a great answer. An an age old problem of life in a Godless world of self serving.

    Forgiveness does not mean ‘condoning’ their actions (even subtle nastiness) It means PRAYING for those who are ‘know nots’ . . . for God to get through to them. (every now and again) They won’t know or care you do this. They go on to college, or trade school, or job and marry and ‘have a life.’ They are COMPLETELY spiritually ignorant. (so pray they see THE LIGHT OF GOD at some point in their life)

    Best way to ‘get revenge’ is TO SUCCEED in whatever is your pursuit. (marriage? religious life? a work life and a family life with mom, dad, aunts and uncles and grandparents)

    Most likely, those bullies in the high school hallway will pop up (by other faces and names) YES, it is because of LACK of faith in THE GOD, and immaturity and insecurity of what LOVE is. It does make the working life difficult. . . so try to be so ‘skilled’ that one can work for just ONE boss (not a big office) or freelance or work one’s own skilled trade . . . if possible do not put yourself in a position where YOU NEED THE JOB let THOSE WHO HIRE realize they need you. (save the paycheck prudently, live with parents (as an adult) rather than pay rent (help parents with expenses) avoid excess debt so that EVEN IF you do work for a larger office… YOU can ‘walk’ anytime THE WORKPLACE is unsupportive.

  2. in the world there will be trials and tribulations… FEAR NOT says THE LORD, He OVERCAME ‘THE WORLD.’

    Stay close to the Sacramental life of the church…and God will provide ‘same as’ QUIET AND FRIENDLY support in life. (as to friendship… if you can count true friends on one hand… YOU ARE BLESSED) One good friend is all any of us need. (God usually starts us out with two… called mom and dad)

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