Can I Respond Well to the Grown-Up Mean Girl? [Episode 302]

respond well grown up mean girl summer sizzle

It’s summer and it’s hot! So that means it’s time for another one of our hottest episodes on the 4:13 … or what we like to call “Summer Sizzle.”

We’re featuring your most shared episodes of the podcast, and that includes Episode 46: “Can I Respond Well to the Grown-Up Mean Girl?”

You know she’s out there, because sometimes the mean girl doesn’t quite grow up—she just grows into a mean woman. So in this episode, you’ll get four ways to manage the emotions a grown-up mean girl brings out of you and learn to respond with maturity.

I’ll share my encounter with a grown-up mean girl, and my hope is that you’ll learn from it as I did. You’ll discover it’s possible to handle those hard relationships and love well even when other grown-ups don’t act their age.

[Listen to the podcast using the player above, or read the transcript below. Then check out the links below for more helpful resources.]

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Episode Transcript

4:13 Podcast: Can I Respond Well to the Grown-Up Mean Girl? [Episode 302]

K.C. Wright: It's summer and it's hot, so that means it's time for another one of our hottest episodes on The 4:13. It's what we call Summer Sizzle. And this episode, Episode 302, is another one of your most shared episodes. Jennifer will answer the 4:13 question, "Can I respond well to the grown-up mean girl?" Well, you know she's out there and you know the answer. Yes, you can respond well. And today, you and I will find out how you can handle those hard relationships and love ever so well, even when other grownups don't act their age. So let the podcast begin.

Jennifer Rothschild: Mean girls grow up, and it sure would be nice if all those years of living would make a mean girl a more gentle woman. But sometimes the mean girl just grows up into a mean woman. And I know this because I got an email from one of them. So today I want to share some very practical encouragement and biblical wisdom to help you the next time you deal with a mean girl who grew up without maturing. You're going to get four wise ways to manage the emotions that a grown-up mean girl brings out of you. So I want you to stay with me and K.C., because this is going to be a great use of your time today.

Take it away, K.C.

K.C. Wright: Welcome to the 4:13 Podcast, where practical encouragement and biblical wisdom set you up to live the "I Can" life, because you can really do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Now, your host, a woman who has a sassy streak of red in her hair today, Jennifer Rothschild.

Jennifer Rothschild: It's true. I'm Jennifer, and we're so glad you're here. We're just here to help you be and do more than you even feel capable of by living this 4:13 life. And I'm glad that we're keeping it real today, K.C.

K.C. Wright: Yes.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes, I did just get my hair colored, and I'll tell you why.

K.C. Wright: It looks nice.

Jennifer Rothschild: Thank you, my friend.

You might be able to hear this in my voice, and you might be able to hear it in K.C.'s. We both have had a cold. And I have felt terrible.

K.C. Wright: A plague really.

Jennifer Rothschild: So when I finally felt well enough, I got my hair colored, because I figured at least I look better than I feel. But what'd you say? We've been riding on the cold train.

K.C. Wright: Oh, my goodness, yeah. And I'm excited. I think I'm almost off the cold train. But, you know, I wake up with so much joy in the morning and, boy, this cold just knocked it out of me. You wake up and you go, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" I mean, it's been rough. It really knocked us both out.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. I've had a lot of friends who've had it too. I hope you've been well out there. I hope you've not been down under the weather. But here's the thing. We push through and we --

K.C. Wright: That's right.

Jennifer Rothschild: If we can't push through, we get our hair colored.

K.C. Wright: And -- yes. And thank God for Mucinex, which is not a sponsor of the podcast.

Jennifer Rothschild: No, but it sure should be. I went through two boxes.

K.C. Wright: And stay hydrated, my friends.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes, stay hydrated.

K.C. Wright: Stay hydrated.

Jennifer Rothschild: That's right. And that doesn't just mean with coffee.

K.C. Wright: And keeping it fun today, because today you're doing another installment of stuff I love at the end, of course. And it is a surprise.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes.

K.C. Wright: So stay with us to the very end of today's show for stuff I love with Jenn and her very own Dr. Phil.

Jennifer Rothschild: I'll give you a hint. Okay?

K.C. Wright: Oh, please do.

Jennifer Rothschild: Because -- in case you're new, you may not be aware that I'm blind, so I have certain gadgets that help me. And, in fact, I used this one in front of somebody the other day and they were like, "I'm not blind and I need that." Okay, that's all I'm going to tell you. But it all involves how I pour my coffee.

K.C. Wright: Ooh.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay, let's get to the topic. Okay? Because this is -- we're going to deal with the 4:13 question today of how we can know to deal with a grown-up mean girl. Because, sadly, they exist. Not just grown-up mean girls, grown-up mean guys too. And I got an email from a grown-up mean girl. And I had never met this woman, and she doesn't know me. But after she read my bio on my website, she felt the need to give me what for. And can I be honest? I felt the same need. I was ready to give it right back to her. So I want to share with you just a part of her email, and then I'm going to give you my response. And so my response might help you know how to deal with a mean girl who grew up without maturing. Okay?

So, K.C., you're the Seeing Eye Guy, so I've printed this and I want you to read this to us.

K.C. Wright: Yeah, this is what the mean girl wrote to our Jenn. "In your bio, you write" --

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay, okay. Thank you for your dramatic interpretation. I don't need you to do a dramatic interpretation.

K.C. Wright: I'm sorry. I am very -- I am very -- I am a protector of my sister.

Jennifer Rothschild: I know you are, and that's very awesome. Okay, but just read the email.

K.C. Wright: Okay.

"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 --

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay, K.C., stop.

K.C. Wright: -- I don't see it in your bio. I see that you shy away from that word and the word "sin" as well. That's never a good sign. 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?"

Oh, man.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

K.C. Wright: Man.

Jennifer Rothschild: It wasn't very nice.

K.C. Wright: Oh, not kind.

Jennifer Rothschild: No, no.

K.C. Wright: But in 20 years of working in Christian radio, I've received many of these as well.

Jennifer Rothschild: Maybe you know her.

K.C. Wright: We call them crusaders.

Jennifer Rothschild: Maybe you know her.

Okay. Now, before I ask K.C. to read the response -- because I did respond to her. Okay? Before I ask him to read that, let me just make sure you know that I did remove a few sentences from her email that K.C. just read, because you didn't need to hear all of it to get the gist. Because believe me, she was prolific. There was more. Also I removed her name, of course, and anything that might reveal who she is, because I don't know her, and you don't know her either, and it really doesn't matter. We don't need to try to figure out who this person is. I just share it with you, not so that you'll get all fired up or try to figure out who she is. I share it so that we can all learn from it, as I did.

So, K.C., when I got that -- and, of course, my computer, of course, reads this to me. So as I am reading this, I'm hearing this, my fingertips are itching, man. I'm ready to write a response, right? So I quickly hit the reply button and I start typing. All right? Now, I'm going to ask K.C. to read to you what I wrote back to her.

K.C. Wright: Listen, Felicia, don't you make me take off my heels.

Jennifer Rothschild: That is not --

K.C. Wright: I will cut you, girl. I will cut you. Oh, no.

Jennifer Rothschild: That is not what I wrote. Okay, I apologize. He is a little fired up today. I did not write that, K.C.

K.C. Wright: She didn't. I'm just having fun.

Jennifer Rothschild: I know you are. You're hilarious.

K.C. Wright: I'm just having fun. That made somebody laugh.

Jennifer Rothschild: It made me laugh. This is why I love you.

Okay, now get with the picture. Read the email.

K.C. Wright: "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 a 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 simply does not accomplish that. Your email was far more of 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 his 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, eyes of 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'll find the words "sin" and "repentance" offered in a very balanced way.

Unfortunately, you choose to judge me, my heart, and my ministry from a single bio, and 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, as Philippians says?

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, even though the truth teller 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. Don't misunderstand, I am not a super spiritual woman at the moment. I am trying to determine if I am a coward or truly seeking to follow the meekness of Christ.

Either way, meanness hurts. I will not push back and I won't send this email."

Jenn, you're a strong woman. You're a strong woman to not send that, and I'm proud of you.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. You know what? So there's this really fine line between being a coward and being courageous sometimes. And I just don't know. Maybe it was self-controlled or maybe I was a scaredy cat, but obviously I didn't send the email. She's never received it. And I'm pretty confident she doesn't listen to this podcast, so she probably has no idea of my reply. So three years later I'm sharing this with you on The 4:13, not because I forgot about it -- you know, obviously, I haven't forgotten about it. I've kept it as a document in my computer thinking that someday I might use it. And clearly here we are. I haven't forgotten because some wounds have a really good memory.

Now, have I also ruminated on this for the last three days -- three years? Absolutely not. I saved it because I really thought, okay, maybe I'll use it. Some hurt can bring healing, and that's what this has done for me. Some hurt brings healing.

K.C. Wright: You know, there are also some grown-up mean guys. Meanness has no gender.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

K.C. Wright: So if the 4:13 question is can I to respond well to the grown-up mean girl or guy, the answer is yes. Yes, you can. So, Jenn, how can we? Should we all just write an email that we never send?

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, right. Okay. So if a grown-up mean girl hurts you, here's what I've learned to do. Okay? I'm going to give you several things. The first one is this: pause. Pause. Don't react. Okay? You know, I started writing that email right away. Silence, though, is often the best response to unkindness. Sometimes it's a 10-second pause and sometimes it's a 10-year pause. Be silent long enough for God's voice to be louder than your emotions, and be silent long enough for his Word and his voice to be louder than the hurtful words of that grown-up mean girl.

K.C. Wright: James 1:19 tells us, "Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger." If we are slow to speak, if we hold our tongues, then we have time to hear God. But also the grown-up meanie may have a chance to consider what she or he said. Letting the meanie sit with the silence may give some space for her words to echo back to her. Also, you don't give the instant satisfaction of a reply, so I'm given a big thumbs up to pausing.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, that's true.

K.C. Wright: I believe this is a very good way on handling things like this.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, I agree with you. It does, it protects us, it protects our testimony, and I do believe it just protects the potential healing that could occur in the relationship.

Okay, let me go to the second one. So you pause is the first. Number two, you be honest. Be honest. So be honest with yourself and with God. If it hurts, say so. You don't stuff it under the rug and you don't always blow it off. Okay? You have to acknowledge when something is hurtful or wrong. So sometimes that means you tell a trusted friend. But you have to be wise who you tell and how you tell, because sometimes -- I know for me, I run to certain friends because I know they're going to go, "Yeah, you're right; she's wrong," you know? Which is awfully gratifying. But what we really need is to be honest with a trusted friend. Someone who's not going to automatically throw somebody under the bus for us and with us, but somebody who's going to walk with us through the emotions and help us get to the place that we need to be in this situation. A friend may be able to be more objective, you know, because sometimes we're oversensitive. All right? And that's just the honest truth. Sometimes we're oversensitive. Or the grown-up meanie really could have been out of line, and a really trusted, mature friend can confirm that. And so another way you can be honest, besides just telling a friend that you trust, another way to be honest is to journal. That is where, K.C., you might draft a letter you won't send. Okay?

So I'll give you a third way. So first of all you're going to pause. Second, you're going to be honest. And the third way is tell God. And, you know, maybe if there were an order of importance, this would be the most important. But you got to pause first before you do anything. Okay? Tell God. Tell God. Express your feelings to him. He gets it. He understands. If anyone knows what it feels like to be unjustly accused, treated with unkindness, betrayed, mistreated, it's your Savior, Jesus. He is not unacquainted, Hebrews says, with what it feels like to suffer and to be human. He knows. He is acquainted with this. So tell him. He gets it. And then ask him for his perspective. Maybe you do need to change something, right? How are you going to know that if you don't tell God and listen for his response? Or maybe your attitude is just as wrong as her unkindness.

I know as I was writing that email, you could probably hear that transition in my heart. I started to realize, okay, my attitude is just as ugly right now as her unkindness. And so I need to know that from the Lord, because I'm not responsible for her choices and her behavior, I'm responsible for mine. So as you talk to God and as you listen, you know, you might hear that maybe that mean person is flat-out wrong and unkind. Maybe you're without fault. And God's wisdom and his grace will reveal that to you, and maybe you do need to confront that person's meanness. But when you tell God, the really cool thing is that you transfer your need to figure it out and defend yourself to him.

K.C. Wright: I love this verse. It's from Psalm 62. Thank God for the Word of God. Amen?

Jennifer Rothschild: Amen.

K.C. Wright: "O people, trust in him at all times." Not some of the time, not most of the time. All always means all. "O people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart." Sounds like a venting session from heaven. "Pour out your heart to him, for he is a refuge, a hiding place to us." That's Psalm 62:8. God wants you, listening right now, just to pour out your heart to him. You can trust him, so tell him what is hurting you, because, let's be honest, he's the only one that can fix it anyway.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

K.C. Wright: Telling a friend or anyone else, I mean, there is wisdom and counsel, we know that from Proverbs, but he's the one that can fix it. He's in the restoration, the healing business --

Jennifer Rothschild: That's right.

K.C. Wright: -- and he's the one that can actually hear and answer our prayers.

Jennifer Rothschild: That's right. So truly pausing and being honest are very important, but they will be incomplete if you don't tell God.

All right, let me give you the last one. Okay? Number four, (singing) let it go. K.C., are you going to sing?

K.C. Wright: (Singing) Let it go.

Jennifer Rothschild: I knew it. I knew this was coming.

K.C. Wright: (Singing) The cold never bothered me anyway. It always has. I hate winter. And I'm so glad Elsa --

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes.

K.C. Wright: -- and Anna --

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes.

K.C. Wright: Well, they're coming out with a Frozen 2. Sorry. I have an eight-year-old. You're the one that brought this word up.

Jennifer Rothschild: I know, I did. I knew this would send you into a Disney journey right now. But, yes, Elsa had some wisdom.

K.C. Wright: Yeah.

Jennifer Rothschild: Let it go.

K.C. Wright: That's right.

Jennifer Rothschild: Let it go. Okay. Once you tell God, listen to God. Do you get that? Once you tell God, listen to God. If he directs you to confront her, then you do it, and then you let it go. If he doesn't, then you leave your hurt with him. Ask him for healing. And so one practical way to let it go is to write that letter that you will not send. Seriously. And once you write it, you reread it and you be satisfied that you poured out your heart. And then wad it up and throw it away. Let it go.

And I know it sounds simple. I really do get that, it sounds simple. But I also know that doesn't mean it's easy. But we complicate things when we get bitter and when we get vindictive or when we become the walking wounded. So don't let it control you. And right now, I'll be honest with you, I have been in the last many months in the middle of a conflict with someone, and it's been really difficult because this person has been unkind, and I'm having to practice this truth over and over. So when I say let it go, y'all, that may not be something you do one time. It may be something you do every morning. It may be something you do every hour. But let it go, because choosing to carry around a vindictive spirit or bitterness truly only hurts us. So let it go. And here's why. Because what you don't let go, you let grow.

K.C. Wright: Uh-oh.

Jennifer Rothschild: Mm-hmm.

K.C. Wright: Uh-oh.

Jennifer Rothschild: What you don't let go, you let grow. Ooh.

K.C. Wright: That is so true. We'll say it again for those of you in the back. What you don't let go, you let grow. Grown-up mean girls are not the boss of your emotions or your 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 hurting people hurt people. But here's truth: healed people heal people. So let's be grownups who are whole and healed by the grace of Jesus.

Jennifer Rothschild: Ooh, yeah. And so when the mean girl strikes, then you strike back -- okay? -- with wisdom and humility and self-control and grace.

K.C. Wright: Don't you make me take off my heels. I'm sorry.

Jennifer Rothschild: Otherwise K.C.'s gonna --

K.C. Wright: I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

Jennifer Rothschild: Otherwise K.C.'s gonna come. So please, please, for all of our sakes, you strike back with grace.

Okay, all of this is going to be on the Show Notes at Plus, after we say goodbye, I've got my three-minute stuff I love with the one I love, my husband, and I'm going to show you this gadget that I use to pour my coffee.

So remember that whatever you're going through, if it's a difficult situation with a mean person, you just remember that through Christ, you can do absolutely all things because he will give you the strength. I can.

K.C. Wright: I can.

Jennifer and K.C.: And you can.

K.C. Wright: You really can.

Jennifer Rothschild: Absolutely.

K.C. Wright: We believe in you.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes.

Hey, it's stuff I love with the one I love. Phil's here with me.

Phil Rothschild: Hello everybody.

Jennifer Rothschild: And we're in the kitchen and I'm going to show you what is called a liquid detector. Okay, so what I'm holding in my hand, Phil, it's a little -- it's the size of a 9-volt battery, right?

Phil Rothschild: Yeah, size of a 9-volt battery, and there's probably one in there.

Jennifer Rothschild: There is a 9-volt battery in there. And it's covered with a little casing.

Phil Rothschild: A red casing, yeah.

Jennifer Rothschild: And then it has these two little prongs.

Phil Rothschild: Actually, three.

Jennifer Rothschild: Three?

Phil Rothschild: There's actually three prongs there.

Jennifer Rothschild: Just little -- they're real sensitive. So my fingers are just a little wet, so when I touch it, it makes a little noise -- okay? -- because it's like a live wire.

Phil Rothschild: Yeah. So what do you use this for?

Jennifer Rothschild: So this is so that I know -- when I'm pouring liquid into a cup, like my coffee into a coffee cup, it will make a little beep to let me know when I'm at the top. And it's not very expensive. We'll have a link on the Show Notes. I've had some in the past that vibrate. This one beeps. And so when it gets up to the first -- to the very bottom of that prong, that middle prong, it'll be like a staggered beep, and that's your warning. And then when it gets to the very top, it will do one suspended long beep, and that's how I know to stop. Okay?

Phil Rothschild: And I don't know if you mentioned that it hangs over the side of the cup.

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, no, I didn't. Thank you. Okay, so I'm hanging it over the side of the cup so that the outside -- the battery part is outside the cup and those little prongs are over the rim inside the cup.

Okay, so now I'm going to pour the liquid. And listen to when it gets close to the top. This takes, by the way, a lot of trust. (Pouring sound.) Coming. (Beeping sound.) See? That means it's almost there. Now, I'm going to do a little more (beeping sound) and I've hit the rim.

Phil Rothschild: So now, Jenn, your water is --

Jennifer Rothschild: It's right at the top.

Phil Rothschild: Right at the top. Maybe an eighth of an inch from the rim.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Phil Rothschild: Maybe a quarter of an inch from the top of the rim.

Jennifer Rothschild: So what it does is it detects when the liquid is getting toward the top so you don't spill coffee all over yourself or all over the counter, because who wants to waste even a drop --

Phil Rothschild: That's right.

Jennifer Rothschild: -- of coffee?

So we'll have a link to this on the Show Notes. It's my little liquid detector. So thanks for hanging out with me and my honey. Bye.

Phil Rothschild: Bye-bye.


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