Last week, one of my girls told me about another kid at school who was intentionally mispronouncing her name to get under her skin. Despite my daughter’s attempts to stop her, the other girl has continued for several days.
As we talked about it, I felt myself getting angry.
My anger wasn’t just about my daughter. Memories of my own childhood swept across an ocean of 30 years like a storm. For me, it was a couple boys in my school who seemed drawn to insecurity in me like wolves drawn to the scent of blood. I remember the smirks on their faces, their tone, the spit, the fists. I remember their names.
Merriam-Webster says to mock is to laugh at or make fun of, especially by copying an action or a way of behaving or speaking. It’s to attack a person’s identity, to twist who they are into a joke worthy of scorn.
I’ve been surprised to discover that in each of the Synoptic Gospels when Jesus describes what’s going to happen to him in Jerusalem, he includes that he will be mocked.
He was. And then some.
After flogging him to near death, his armed, bored, prejudiced and pitiless captors—backed by those in power—encircled him. Wolves. Maybe 200 of them. They knew what people were saying about him: miracle worker, prophet of God, king. And that’s where they aimed all the mockery and violence that follows.
- They draped a beautiful robe around Jesus’ torn open back, pressed thorns on his head like a crown, and knelt down, taunting, “Give homage to the king of the Jews!”
- They put a reed in his hand like a king’s scepter, then grabbed it back and beat his head with it. They spit on him, blindfolded him, then punched him, jeering, “You’re a prophet, so tell us who hit you!”
- And after nailing him up, they scrawled “King of the Jews” on a placard and posted it over his hanging, naked body.
Mockery derides what’s true, so what’s true doesn’t seem so good anymore. It twists a name so the true name seems small. It strikes close to home to try to get you to step away from home.
“Mockery derides what’s true, so what’s true doesn’t seem so good anymore.”
Those crucified with Jesus, they mocked him too. When you’re vulnerable, it’s tempting to turn on whoever is weaker. As a boy, when the wolves would aim their barbs at someone else (dear God anyone else) I remember my forced shallow laughter, hoping to blend in so they’d forget about me.
Those who mock and bully have no idea, of course. They’ve stumbled upon a ring of power. Its sorcery is alluring. They don’t know there’s another force behind it, one that’s been at work since the start. And it means them harm, too.
So back to the other night with my daughter. I don’t have a sure path out of this for her. I wish I did, but I know she’ll have to face this and much worse as she lives the story that is her own to live.
Sitting next to her, I’m not quite sure what to say. So I pray with her and we listen for Jesus to speak.
I hear something I don’t expect. Just a spark.
I open my eyes and tell her her name. She knows it but I say it anyway.
“This is who you are. God gave us your name and the authority to give it to you. Throughout life, others will try to get you to believe they have the authority to give you a different one, but they don’t.”
I say her name again with the same authority as the day my wife and I gave it at her birth, and add, “If someone calls you by another name, you can even act like they’re talking to someone else.”
She smiles and I see a bit of the fog lift.
For me, too.
Jesus became the weaker kid for us. The wolves smelled his blood and circled while we looked on. Even while we mocked along.
But the authority and power he set aside in those hours, he has picked back up again. And then some.
My daughter’s identity, and mine, and yours are secure because of it.
What wolves are after you today? How are they twisting the name God has given you? What are they claiming about your home and about who you are? What is the Father saying to you instead?
I’d love to hear from you. What other suggestions do you have for dealing with the bullies in your life or in the lives of your kids? Share your thoughts below.
1) It just doesn’t get any better than to follow His lead. I can’t imagine any other words to say to your daughter that could even approach how deeply Christ’s words through you sank into her heart and satisfied her and strengthened her.
2) Who knows how He will lead next time.
3) So many things flow out of our identity. Maybe that’s why God is always talking with us about it.
1) Thanks, Mark.
2) So true.
3) Amen. Grateful for men like you who, seeking His leading, gently help others embrace their God-given identities.
Josh- That was incredible. What a gift for your daughter to hear those powerful words from her amazing dad, all within the context of prayer. Seems weird, but perhaps that teasing she received was just the beginning of a new and beautiful outlook on herself and her future.
On an amusing side-note, when my oldest son was bullied years ago in middle-school. I remember talking to him about how it wasn’t his problem, but the other kid’s and that if he didn’t want me to step in, he’d have to get creative. Somehow, in his sense of humor, he came up with the idea of saying the same thing to every taunt, in a very nonchalant manner: “So is your face.” It rarely made any sense in the context of the taunts and just left bullies very confused. They gave up on him. Somehow he realized that bullies feed on response. I was amazed.
I’m grateful, Larry. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience.
I love the way you repeatedly seem to lift up the value of creativity in your parenting, Larry. Being that he’s your son, somehow it doesn’t surprise me that he would come up with his nonchalant “So is your face” strategy.
I haven’t figured it out yet, but there’s a gold nugget for me somewhere in the “they gave up on him.”
Josh…beautiful wise words! Thank you for sharing.
Jenna, thank you!
Hey there, Brave Warrior Prince Josh!
There are dozens of times I’ve “commented on your posts in my head,” but this is the first time (I think!), that I’ve stopped to actually write to you — yay! 🙂
First — thank you for your steadfast willingness to allow PAPA to use you mightily in other people’s lives — mine included!
Second — your three sentences describing what mockery attacks (the goodness of Truth, my name, and home/Home), really struck a chord with me. Thank you!
Third — just because I notice these things — only one of the two men who were crucified alongside KING YESHUA mocked Him (not both of them like you wrote).
Fourth — three words…”but they don’t,” (have the authority to override PAPA). Wow!!! I sure needed to hear those words!!!
Fifth — your questions regarding what the wolves are attacking me about really helped me see more clearly — kinda like an opening in the fog. What a blessing!
Thank you, again, Brave Warrior Prince Josh!!! I am grateful to KING JESUS for you, Brother!
In HIS Great Love!
Beautiful Warrior Princess Melanee Lisa!
Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment! I’m grateful God spoke to you through this post. That’s an honor.
Thanks, too, for being willing to check me on biblical accuracy. I was thinking of Matthew 27:44.
Bless you, Warrior Princess!
My fourteen year old daughter will be heading off to high school next year and helping her cement her identify “in Christ” as is hammered home especially throughout the Pauline epistles is definitely something we focus on at home. Love the way you expressed this to your daughter. One of my favorite things about FCA, a ministry I have a long history with, is the first line of their creed, “I am a Christian first and last”. How we identify ourselves is key to the foundation of our worldview.
Thank you, Pat. I’m grateful for FCA and appreciate your sharing this. Good stuff!
I’d really love to hear more about how you guys are working to help your daughter “cement her identity ‘in Christ’.” What a worthy mission you’re on as you look toward her moving into high school and beyond. I’d benefit hearing more either on or off-line.
Thank you again for sharing your beautiful insights from your experiences and our Creator Himself! We have our identity in Him, His authority overrides all others.
Thanks, Briget. “We have our identity in Him, His authority overrides all others.” Isn’t that good news? And I half wonder if I’d recognize what good news that is if not for those voices that try to assert their authority. Thanks again for reading and commenting.
Amen Amen Amen! Brought tears to my eyes!
Thanks for reading, Andrea. Grateful for your heart.
Great point. I’ve had to learn that , though my earthly father had great influence over me just because he was father, he did not have the right to define me by the negative things he said about me. Only my heavenly Father has the right to define me…”beloved of God”.
Thank you for bringing up this important perspective! So true.
Thank you! Your messages are very practical for everyday reality. I forward them to a group of men I disciple and they use them as part of their weekly studies. My wife and appreciate your ministry and the impact it has for the. KIngdom here on earth.
You’re very welcome. Thank you for letting me know!
This was extremely helpful to read & I had the power of my name come up 3x that day. I journaled extensively about this & really feel God telling me a lot. Thanks for your words & wisdom to continually lean on Him.
Wow, so glad to hear it, Kel. Thanks for reading.