October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Ambassador author Laura Taylor’s book EE Otter and the Bullfrog Bullies teaches kids how to biblically combat bullying. This is the final installment in Laura’s three-part series on bullying.
I really wasn’t planning on writing a children’s book. I spent years telling stories to my own boys. One of my younger sons, Evan, was wild about the fantastic tales of Nutty the Naughty Squirrel that I made up to help him go to sleep at night. Still, I’d never entertained the idea of writing a book for kids. I always wanted to write but thought my first adventure into publishing a book would be more along the lines of a women’s devotional.
That all changed about five years ago. My two youngest boys, Evan and Ethan had gone on a trip and brought me back a stuffed otter. Otter’s happen to be my favorite animal so they surprised me with this sweet gift. We were going through a very difficult time back then. And I named that little, stuffed otter EE Otter (short for Evan and Ethan) and told them I was going to write a story about him.
I didn’t set out to write a story about bullies, it just popped into my head one night as I was trying to go to sleep. EE Otter and the Bullfrog Bullies. It had a catchy ring to it so I decided that would be the title of my first manuscript. That’s good, right? To have a title? At least it’s a place to begin. And being a physical education teacher I had to deal with handling issues of bullying as they arose. And, beyond that, I was actually dealing my own situation involving a bully. It seemed as if the timing were perfect.
It was a quick start. I found myself lost and falling in love with the Laurel Wood and all of EE’s little forest friends. The first few chapters came easily and I was thoroughly enjoying writing this story. Then I hit a snag. I just wasn’t sure where the story was supposed to go. EE had his bully encounter, but now what? I did know one thing for sure, that this book was to center around God’s Word and how children can apply His truths to any situation in their life because His way works. I pondered using David and Goliath for the scriptural part, but that seemed too overused. I read various passages of scripture but none seemed to be the right direction for my little otter to head.
At the same time, the situation in my personal life was escalating. I was receiving emails, calls, and text messages with insults and veiled threats and I was getting fed up and angry. Yet this bully always managed to fly under the radar. I wasn’t able to get help in stopping this and I was sick with anger and anxiety over it. There were times I prayed those imprecatory prayers like David where I asked God to just deal out His justice upon my enemy. And times I cried out to Him to heal my hurt. There were times I fired back with an angry email or text. Yet healing seemed to be so far away and so did the conclusion of EE’s story. It was New Year’s Eve and my husband and I were at church. Seated in front of us was a family that I knew had been through experiences similar to ours. I had listened as the mother talked about forgiveness and healing. It was then that God’s voice spoke to me sweetly and very clearly. “I said to love your enemies, to bless those that curse you”. I really wanted to pretend I didn’t hear that! “But I am afraid, Father.” I replied. “This person has caused so much pain and destruction in my life, in the lives of people I love, if I let down my guard I can’t protect them, I can’t protect me!” He whispered, “Child, I created mankind. I created you. I know how the heart works. I know how life is supposed to work. That is why I gave you My Word as an instruction manual. What I ask of you is because I love you and I know how to make things
work for your good. My Word says that there is no fear in love for perfect love casts out fear. I love you perfectly, Laura. So if I tell you to forgive this enemy, this one who has hurt you; if I tell you to bless this one who has cursed you, then I am telling you out of my perfect love for you. Do you trust my Love?”
It was then that I relinquished my hurt and my control over this situation. I realized that God’s word was truly Life for my living. It wasn’t a book of suggested “How To’s”, it was the essence for living well, for living life as He intended and commanded for me to live it. Forgiving didn’t come easy and the bully is not gone from our lives. Forgiving has been and continues to be a process for me, but as I learn to trust God’s love more completely it becomes easier. And as I marvelled at God’s ways, I became thankful that His ways are not my ways nor His thoughts my thoughts! I was thankful that His love was perfect and meant I didn’t have to fear doing that which He asked of me! And, in the midst this personal growing process I discovered the direction that my little friend, EE Otter would need to travel on his own adventure in dealing
with those old bullfrog bullies.
I don’t know what bullies you might be facing. I don’t know how daunting the task of forgiving someone may be for you. What I do know is that you have nothing to fear by following the words of our Savior, by putting His principles of living and loving into action. Trust His love. It has never failed anyone yet! May you be blessed and find rest in His perfect, unending love.