No More Mean Girls
Real talk… How many people in your life do you not like? Or find irritating? Or think they are rude? Gotcha. Me too. How many of those people have you actually taken the time to get to know? How many people whose stories you intimately know are on your “stay the heck away from me” list? For me, not many. My list tends to be filled with people I’ve had momentary encounters with, people who have caught me on a grumpy day and I’ve never given them a second chance and mostly (if I’m honest) people my friends have told me to stay away from. Sound familiar?
Honestly most adult female circles very closely resemble the circles of little 2nd grade girls, except we have wrinkles and drink wine. How did these mean girls grow up to be mean women? We wouldn’t tolerate such behavior from our daughters, so
why have we adopted this behavior ourselves?
For me, I know I find that when I have made the decision not to like someone, I tend to feel justified. Most often a close friend has been burned by this person, a story was told about a negative interaction or gossip has spread like such wildfire about them that I can’t even determine the original source to fact check.
It seems to be a common habit among women to pick up the offenses of our friends. The enemy of my friend is also my enemy and the enemy of my enemy is also my friend. I guess this logic makes perfect sense in war situations when determining allies, but do we really believe that determining the invite list for the neighborhood potluck is that hostile of a situation?
Not only are we taking our daily lives wayyyyy too seriously when we choose this sort of philosophy, but we are also not doing our friends the service we think we are. Friends don’t carry each other’s offenses. They help them put them down. Unforgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, and resentment are far too heavy of boulders to continue heaping onto a friend’s weary shoulders.
Now, I am by no means perfect at this, but with intentionality I have gotten a LOT better. Here are my top five tips to banishing the mean girl mentality:
1. DON'T ENGAGE IN THE SMACK TALK. If someone has done something so absolutely heinous that you feel the need to talk about her, you probably should be calling her up right this minute to have coffee and sort things out. If it isn’t that serious, let it go. If a friend is revving up the gossip train, simply shut it down. My go-to answer is, “I don’t really know her/I wasn’t there so I can’t really speak into this. Have you talked to her?”
2. IF YOU ABSOLUTELY CAN'T STAND SOMEONE, GET TO KNOW THEM BETTER. Most people who drive me absolutely bonkers either have a super interesting story that completely explains their behavior or they are exactly like me so they need extra grace. Ha!
3. DEMOTE THEM. This sounds like a mean girl mentality, but I promise you it isn’t. If someone is repeatedly hurting you, they need to be demoted from your inner circle of intimacy so they no longer have access to your heart. We are to “guard our heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” We can’t guard our heart if we have given the keys to someone who isn’t safe. When they have been demoted to a level of access that is appropriate to their behavior we no longer have to feel offended, hurt, bitter, or resentful. We have set up appropriate boundaries so the person can function successfully in our lives.
4. BE JESUS-FOCUSED. We are all made in the image of God. If we are focused on spotting the “God qualities” in each other and speaking these things out, we will be more capable of looking over the qualities that may drive us crazy. The twelve disciples were all very different people, but they were united in their mission and their focus on Jesus. All the parts of the body are needed to do the work He has called us to.
5. EXPERIENCE EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE FOR YOURSELF. This one is huge. Your bestie may absolutely hate the new Indian restaurant that opened up, but you may love it. Try it! Your friend may have had a negative interaction with someone, but you may absolutely LOOOOOVE this person. Give them a chance. We are all unique individuals on our own journey with Jesus. He has placed people and missions in your life that only YOU can fulfill. Don’t miss your calling over a wall of offense that isn’t even yours.
Make this your mantra:
So long as it depends on me, I will live at peace with everyone. Jesus has empowered you to live freely and lightly, but the choice to walk in this power is all yours. Put down your heavy boulders, let go of all your hindrances and rest in the truth that he has set you free.