How to Respond to the Grown-Up Mean Girl

Mean girls grow up. It sure would be nice if all those years of living would make a mean girl a gentler woman, but sometimes, the mean girl just grows into a mean woman. I know this because I got an email from one of them. I never met her and she doesn’t know me, but after she read my bio from my website, she felt the need to give me the what for!

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And, can I be honest? I felt the same need. Let me give you an excerpt of her note to me and then, I’ll give you my response. My response may help you the next time you deal with a mean girl who grew up without maturing.

“In your bio you write, “My bio is just a few chapters of His story.” That is a stunning statement. God’s story is complete in Scripture. You seem to be elevating your life, and its events, with the gospel message. Speaking of the gospel message, I don’t see it in your bio. I sense that you shy away from that word and the word sin as well. That is never a good sign.

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Your “story” is very secondary, and quite irrelevant, to his. Your words reveal your heart and your words say a lot about you. Where is your heart? Whom do you serve? God or yourself?”

Now, before you read my response — let me tell you, I did remove a few sentences because you didn’t need to read all of it to get the gist. Also, I removed her name and anything that could reveal who she is. I truly don’t know her and —sister — you probably don’t either so don’t try to guess! I share it with you not so you’ll get fired up or try to figure out who she may be; I share it with you so you can learn from it as I did.

So… here is my response…

“Dear __, your words were mean. I speak honestly because you seem to be okay with that. You could have shared your concerns with me with kindness and an open mind instead of quick condemnation and accusation. If your goal was to hurt me, you accomplished that. If your goal was to share your concerns, truly get clarification, then, your email does not communicate that.

Your email was far more an accusation than an inquiry.

To be honest, I hesitated to respond to you because I didn’t want to support or respond to such a mean spirit.  But, for the sake of the gospel, I will clarify. My statement about my bio being a “small part of His story” was not meant to elevate my story to the level of importance of the gospel — I actually meant it to put my story into place; the small place it should be in comparison to God’s big story and big work. Perhaps I could have written that in a way that in no way creates any confusion. Or perhaps, you can read it with different eyes; eyes of love and kindness?

And, if you read more than just my bio — if you read even a few of my bible studies or books or blogs, you will find the words sin and repentance offered in a very balanced way. Unfortunately, you chose to judge me, my heart, and my ministry from a single bio. I am very disappointed that you found it in your heart to shame me and condemn me. I could ask you the same, what is in your heart?

But, as I write this, I ask myself, am I just defending myself because you hurt me? Or, am I trying to set another sister straight as you did to me? Am I “doing nothing out of selfishness and vain conceit, considering you more important than me?

I think I am attempting to do to you what you did to me — hurt me. So, I will not send you this email even though every part of my flesh wants to. And, even though the prophet gift in me wants to.

So, what should I do? I guess I will just wipe my tears, give them to God and tell you that in Christ, I am made new, forgiven and loved. He has forgiven me of all my SIN and if I have sinned in my bio I do REPENT. And, so with that new man, Christ’s loving spirit in me — it is His right now, not mine– I will tell you that I love you and will consider your words. I will attempt to believe the best about your intention.

Meanness hurts. I will not push back.”

Call me self-controlled or a scaredy-cat, but obviously I didn’t send the email! She has never received a response from me.

Now, three years later, I am sharing this with you as a blog. Did I forget about it? Nope. Some wounds have a good memory. Did I fixate on it?  Nope. I saved it as a document knowing I would someday revisit it and maybe even use it for good. Some hurt brings healing.

If a grown-up mean girl hurts you, here’s what I’ve learned to do:

1. Pause.

Don’t react. Silence is often the best response to unkindness. Sometimes it’s a ten-second pause, sometimes a ten-year pause! Be silent long enough for God’s voice to be louder than your emotions.

Silence is often the best response to unkindness. [Click to Tweet]

2. Be honest.

Journal. Draft a letter that you won’t send. Tell a trusted friend. (But, not in order for her to help you throw the offender under the bus!)

Hurt people hurt people. [Click to Tweet]

3. Tell God.

Express your feelings to Him. He understands. Ask Him for His perspective. Maybe you do need to change something? Maybe your attitude is just as wrong as her unkindness? Maybe she is flat-out wrong and unkind? Maybe you are without fault and God’s wisdom and grace will reveal that to you. When you tell God, you transfer your need to figure it out and defend yourself to Him.

When you tell God, you transfer your problem to Him. [Click to Tweet]

4. Let it go.

Once you tell God, listen to God. If He directs you to confront her with His wisdom and gentleness, do it and then let it go. If He doesn’t, leave your hurt with Him, ask Him for healing and let it go. Sounds simple, I know.  Simple things aren’t always easy, but we complicate things when we get bitter, vindictive or become the walking wounded.  So don’t let it control you, let it go.  Because, what you don’t let go, you let grow.

What you don’t let go, you let grow. [Click to Tweet]

Grown-up mean girls are not the boss of your emotions or identity! Their behavior is most often more about them and their own brokenness than it is about you, so try to remember, as I do, that hurt people hurt people. Let’s be grownup women who are whole and healed by the grace of Jesus! When the mean girl strikes, we can strike back with humility, self-control and grace.

Grown-up mean girls aren’t the boss of your feelings or your identity. [Click to Tweet]
Lord, for my sisters who have been hurt, please cover them today. Remind them of who they are in You, and help them to let their hurt go. Use this for your good, Father. Amen.

How do you handle interactions with mean girls? Please share it with us in the comments below.