We’ve all experienced interactions with “mean girls”. And if I’m being completely honest with you, I’ve been on both sides of the coin. I’ve been the mean girl, and I’ve been the mean girl’s target. Thankfully, I wasn’t a mean girl for long – my conscience couldn’t handle it. But just because I outgrew that behavior doesn’t mean everyone else has, or will.
Once you’ve been a mean girl’s target, it’s easy to spot the signs of a mean girl. I was fairly new to my church and had just finished leading a worship song, when I saw a woman sitting in the 2nd row, pointing at me and laughing with her husband. It was all I could do not to start crying. I replayed the song in my head. Did my voice crack? Did I mess up the words? I ran my hands down my sides to make sure my shirt hadn’t ridden up and that my mom-belly was still covered. (Lord knows no one wants me to have a wardrobe malfunction.) But all was in place. With nothing else to examine, I had to face the music. I had been “mean girled” at church. And I was devastated.
Though I never told anyone about the incident, I cried about it. I prayed about it. I stewed about it. But I went on with my life, continued to sing at church, and ignored the situation. So imagine my surprise when the very woman who laughed at me asked to be my Facebook friend. My immediate reaction was “no way!”. I was sure this woman only wanted more ammunition. She would find a flaw in my mothering skills by reading my statuses and studying my pictures. She would look for my imperfections – and there are many. No. Absolutely no. But God told me yes. With a sigh and a dramatic roll of my eyes, I accepted the friend request.
To my disbelief, the hearts started rolling in. Not just likes, but hearts! She “hearted” a lot of my pictures and statuses. She commented on a few things and offered to participate in my daughter’s fundraiser. A feather could have knocked me over. Why was she being nice? Surely there was an ulterior motive. I thanked her for her support with the fundraiser, and then added another brick to the protective wall around my heart. I would not fall for the “nice” trick.
As the months passed, we talked more and more on Facebook, then at church, and before I knew it, I liked her. I’d never mentioned the mean girl moment, and I decided to forgive her. She’d made a mistake. I have made countless of those. I had to put this behind me if I was going to give this new friendship a shot. So I did.
In this friendship, I found that she had a big heart. She was truly a wonderful woman. I began looking forward to our interactions, and that tall, thick wall I’d built crumbled down. She was in. This was the danger zone. In this place, she could really hurt me. Being this vulnerable with someone is hard when you’ve been “mean girled” because now you care about this person and what they think.
One day, while talking, she told me about one of the first times she’d heard me sing at church. She laughed and said, “I leaned over to my husband, pointed at you, and said ‘I sound just like that when I sing, right babe?’.” She said, “We both laughed so hard because I can’t sing at all!” I froze. I knew the day she was talking about. I knew exactly. I had completely misjudged what had happened. They weren’t making fun of me at all. In their own cute way, they had been complimenting me.
It still amazes me to think that I almost missed out on this amazing friendship with her over a misunderstanding. We forget that not everything is as it seems. It really seemed as if they were making fun of me. What if I had denied her friend request? What if I’d never been kind to her because I let anger, hurt, and bitterness simmer inside of me? What if she thought I was a mean girl because I wouldn’t talk to her? How different could this have turned out?
This experience has taught me so much. I’m grateful that I chose to listen to God in this situation. I hope that when you’re presented with a similar situation, you’ll remember the following:
Even when things look a certain way, be sure before you react.
In all circumstances, treat everyone with kindness.
Forgive them and forgive yourself.
Seek God’s will in all your relationships.
Give people a chance – a real chance.
Okay, I know. Some of you have an actual mean girl that you’re dealing with. While I’d like to say it’s a misunderstanding, “mean girling” is a thing that totally exists. So I’ll pass on what I tell my daughter:
Show them what a kind person looks like. You can’t control them or their actions, but you can control yours. Don’t ever lower yourself to their level. Instead, show them what it’s like on your level and encourage them grow.
If it continues, they’re not your friend. It’s hard, but not everyone is good for you. You can choose to excuse yourself from interacting with that person without being a mean girl back. We’re called to be kind, but not take abuse. Kindness is not weakness.
Pray for them. This can be so difficult. The last thing we want to do is pray for someone who is mistreating us. But I promise, those who need love the most are the least lovable people. Let God work in them through you.
Being a girl/woman is hard, right? But we aren’t meant to go through life alone. We need to lift each other up, encourage one another. My friends are a huge part of my life. I couldn’t get through a single day without my girlfriends. Support and love the women God brings into your life. They are a precious gift.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 (NIV)
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:12-13 (NIV)
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:12-13