“Well, I ain’t a mean girl
But I’ve known a few
They’ll make you cry, baby
And then blame it on you
They’ll hate you if you’re pretty
They’ll hate you if you’re not
They’ll hate you for what you lack, baby
Then they’ll hate you for what you’ve got…”
My daughter is two years old. It scares me to know that one day in the future she will have to deal with mean girls. She may even be a mean girl herself one day. If you know me, you know that I have the holy privilege of being a mother to a beautiful, splendidly smart little girl. I also have the incredible responsibility of leading a middle school life group made up of nine eleven-twelve year olds. Those nine girls have so many sweet similarities, yet they are still different as can be. My precious girls in that group are constantly teaching me, keeping me accountable, and expanding my views on things.
Something that they have opened my eyes to: mean girls. A mean girl comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages. Mean girls have existed for centuries before me. Unfortunately, they will continue to exist long after me as well. We have all met a mean girl once or twice in our lives. We have all also been a mean girl once or twice before. My girls are not mean girls at heart, but sometimes, due to their age, that mean girl spirit rears its ugly head and problems arise.
The natural phenomena of mean girls: how should we deal with them? How in the world do we deal with them since we know they will never really go away. After all, I still have mean girls in my own life- as a grown woman!
I want to talk about this topic because I want my girls to understand that I may not always have the answers in life. (My girls: my daughter and my church girls. I am so thankful for the responsibility that their parents have entrusted me with. Today’s world has such a tight grasp on them already, trying to tear them apart little by little. But, together I think we have a real shot of keeping them whole.) However, I want them to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are not alone, no matter how alone they may feel at times. The problem of being and facing mean girls is a lifelong battle that exists all across God’s green earth.
Speaking of God, how does He play into this? The answer is: love. God is love. As soon as we start to understand and live abundantly in that understanding, it will all make a little more sense. Love speaks louder than any other word or action. Over the years I have had to learn the lesson of loving people who I just did not want to love. Maybe they did not meet my expectations of worthiness, maybe they were just downright mean and/or hateful to me or someone I love, or maybe they did not want to be loved in the first place. Love transcends all things. When I think about it, I have fit into every single one of those categories at one time or another. So have you.
All people need love, whether or not they deserve it or want it.
Encountering a mean girl can hurt. Often it does, Down to the core. You see, over the years I have learned as one matures through experiences and walks with the Lord, the sting of a mean girl lessens because you start to see that it is not personal, even though it sure feels that way in the moment. You begin to realize the actions of the mean girls have less to do with you and more to do with her own insecurities and personal issues. We do not always know where that particular mean girl is coming from: her home life, her experiences, her own issues. Maybe she is a victim of a mean girl herself and the only way she knows how to deal with it is be one, too.
Love her, anyway! Love with reckless abandon, even though she will shrug it off, throw it back in your face, and certainly not return it in the beginning. Love her anyway. The person who is the hardest to love is the one who truly needs it the most. The mean girl is a hurting girl and if we can begin to view her in this light, it becomes so much easier to overlook that meanness and forgive her actions. That does mean that we have to accept her behavior, but do not take it personal.
Do not take it personally. Take the high road. Do not join her in being a fellow mean girl. Nothing disarms a mean girl faster than an unwilling partner. That in itself is really, really, really difficult to do. Trust me when I say to you, though being the bigger person is hard to do, you will be respected for doing so, you will be honored for doing so. It is the right thing to do. Secretly, no one really likes or respects the mean girl in the first place. It may seem like they are the queen bee, but it is more out of fear than true respect or loyalty. You will walk away the winner, even if you walk away alone.
Never stop praying. Pray for that mean girl in your life. She may never know that you are praying for her and that is perfectly ok. She has hurts and scars causing her to act like a mean girl in the first place. That is not an excuse for her to act in that manner, but it may be the only way she knows. Pray, pray, pray for her. Honestly, wholeheartedly, and gracefully. You may be the only person praying for her. Pray for God to give you the grace to handle the situation in a way that most pleases Him. Pray for God to reveal when perhaps you’ve been a mean girl yourself.
Never go into a situation thinking that you can fix someone; you are not a brain or heart surgeon, nor are you the magnificent creator who formed us all from dust. God’s got this just as He has everything else under control. He just needs you to follow through with what you are called to do. A mean girl can be a force of nature, a thorn in our sides, at times. Do your best to love her, pray for her, stand up for her victims, and remember to guard your heart because it is easy to fall into the trap of being a mean girl. It took me years and years to learn an easy lesson: You do not have to like everyone, but you need to love them. For my girls, that means that you do not have to be friends or spend time with everyone, but you do need to show them respect, kindness, grace, and mercy.
Remember, we have all been there; we have all been a mean girl before. The mean girl may win a few battles, but she will never win the one that counts the most in the end. Knowing and choosing to be a mean girl is not ok. Ever. Reflect on the times where you have been a mean girl yourself and make amends for those times. Say “I’m sorry” and ask for forgiveness. If you know how much it hurts to be a victim of a mean girl, why in the world would you be a mean girl to someone else? How do you do that? Stop making everything a competition. Stop making things that are not important the focus of your life. Watch who you spend time with. You become like the people and things you spend the most time with. Remember that boys come and go, looks fade, and being popular is not the ultimate goal in life. Slow down, relax, and model grace, love, and compassion for everyone to experience. Remember that you are a messenger of the Creator of the heavens and the earth; you are not an idol to be worshiped by your peers. Get over yourself and realize that you are not the center of the universe. You may be prettier than others, smarter than others, or richer than others, but to God you are the same as the person you think you are better than. Christ took the punishment and died for you just the same as He did for the girl you are talking about, bullying, laughing about, etc. Remember all of that.
Moms, I am speaking directly to you here: Talk to your daughter about life. Be involved in her life. Find out if she is being a mean girl and/or if she is a victim of a mean girl. Also, remember that she is always watching you. Even when she rolls her eyes and tells you that she hates you, you’re the dumbest human being in the history of the world, and that she cannot wait to grow up: she is still watching you, listening to what you say, and she will remember it her whole life. Show her, even when you think she is not watching, how you navigate the mean girls in your own life. If you are a mean girl, stop. It is not too late to ask for forgiveness and make amends. Be an example of grace, mercy, and loving kindness. Model God’s love for others. I know it is hard. Lead by example. Make a difference.