We’ve met them on the playground, been excluded from their lunch tables, written songs about them, been bruised by their words, and tried wearing pink with them on Wednesdays. Hello, Mean Girls.
I’ve always been a fan of the concept of cheering on the women around us. Rather than living in a spirit of competition, why not build each other up…we’re all on the same team after all, right? But life doesn’t always work that way. We find ourselves coming face-to-face with friends-turned-into-what-seems-like-enemies as we tear each other down and end up feeling like we amount to nothing in the process.
Here’s what I know to be true: we’ve all experienced a “mean girl” at some point on our journeys. We’ve been hurt, believed less of ourselves, and simultaneously wanted what she had—the popularity, the status, the girl squad, the it factor.
But I also know this to be true: hurting people hurt people. The mean girls in my story had their own hurts and heartaches and pain. In the midst of their own grief, they threw their hurt onto me, throwing heartache around like confetti in an attempt to take down the hearts around them too.
“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9, NLT
How can we navigate the battlefield of frenemies? How can we live out the words of 1 Peter 3:9 and choose to combat meanness with kindness—believing the best in people and remaining confident in who we are and Whose we are in the midst of harsh words, angry glares, gossip and backstabbing?
- Realize mean girls are hurting too. When the insults are flying, it’s really hard to pause and ask, “What’s happening in her world—what hurt is she experiencing?” But every single time I’ve made the choice to ask that question and learn more about why the mean girls in my life are acting the way they are, I always end up feeling compassionate towards them rather than bitter. There are always two sides to every story—and in the case of mean girls, there’s always something happening in their lives that we may or may not know about that is influencing how they’re choosing to work through their own hurts.
- Recognize that we’ve all had our own mean girl moments. We’re all human. We all mess up. We all make mistakes. And we’ve all been the mean girl at some point in our stories—whether it wasn’t responding kindly to a parent or sibling, not inviting the new girl to sit with us at lunch, or gossiping about a fellow co-worker. We’ve all been there and all need to choose to respond with kindness when we’re frustrated and hurting.
- Throw grace around like confetti. When the mean girls in our lives throw hurt around like confetti, fight back with grace. Remembering that mean girls are hurting too and recognizing that we’ve all had our own mean girl moments, choose to extend love and grace—you never know what kind of impact you’ll make in the process.
- Let it go. Be wise in how you navigate the murky waters of frenemies. Don’t over-reach or desperately try to befriend the mean girls in your story, but do choose to be the light of Jesus in your encounters with them. Walk forward confidently knowing who you are and Whose you are, and choose wisely in guarding your heart. Words do hurt and cut deeply—while we respond with grace, it’s not wise to become a doormat to those around us. Let the hurtful words and actions go, and focus solely on what is true: you are a daughter of the King, you’re made with purpose, your story is headed somewhere and you’re going to be ok. While mean girls are characters that enter our stories, they don’t have to take the leading role in our stories.
Hurting people hurt people. But the cycle can break with us. We don’t have to walk through the chapters in our stories filled with frenemies with angry fists and broken hearts. The mean girls in our stories don’t define us—God defines us. We can thrive even in the midst of heartache and frustration—but only when we choose to lace up our boots and stand firm, walking confidently knowing who we are and Whose we are.
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:43-48, The Message
Friend, you’re amazing. Lift your head up today and walk confidently knowing who you are and Whose you are. We’re on this journey together and you’re going to be ok. Let’s continue becoming who God made us to be.