I once got an email from a grown-up mean girl.
She didn’t know me and I’d never met her, but after she read my website bio, she felt the need to give me what for!
And, can I be honest? After I read her email, I felt the same need!
Here’s what she had to say:
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. 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 I share my response, let me tell you, I did remove a few sentences from her email because you didn’t need to hear 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, what was my response? Here’s what I wrote:
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 accomplish 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,’ 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!
Call me self-controlled or call me a scaredy-cat, but, obviously I didn’t send the email. She has never received a response from me, and I doubt she listens to the 4:13 Podcast, so she still has no idea of my reply. Now, three years later, I am sharing this with you.
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.
Friend, you may have been hurt by a grown-up mean girl too. Maybe you’re in a difficult situation with one right now. If that’s you, this episode of the 4:13 Podcast is for you. KC and I give you four action steps to help you respond well to the grown-up mean girls in your life.
How to Respond Well to a Grown-Up Mean Girl
- Pause. Silence is often the best response to unkindness. So, don’t react. Sometimes it’s a 10-second pause, sometimes a 10-year pause. Be silent long enough for God’s voice to be louder than your emotions—and louder than the hurtful words of the grown-up mean girl.
James 1:19 tells us, “to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” If you are slow to speak and hold your tongue, then you have time to hear God. Also, the grown-up mean girl may have a chance to consider what she said. Letting her sit with the silence may give some space for her words to echo back to her. Plus, you don’t give the instant satisfaction of a reply.
- Be honest. If it hurts, say so. Be honest with yourself and with God. Tell a trusted friend. But, be careful that you aren’t sharing in order for your friend to help you throw the offender under the bus! A friend may be able to be more objective and see if perhaps you may have been oversensitive. Or, if the grown-up mean girl was been out of line, a friend can confirm that. Another way to be honest is to journal. Draft a letter that you won’t send.
- Tell God. Express your feelings to Him. He understands. Psalm 62:8 says, “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is your refuge.” God wants you to pour out your heart to Him. You can trust Him, so tell Him what is hurting you.
Ask God 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.
- Let it go. Once you tell God, listen to Him. 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 and ask Him for healing.
One practical way to let it go is to write that letter you won’t send. Once you write it, reread it so you are satisfied that you have poured out your heart. Then, wad it up and throw it away. Let it go.
We complicate things when we get bitter, vindictive, or become the walking wounded. So, don’t let it control you, instead let it go. Because, 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 hurt people hurt people.
4:13ers, let’s be grown-ups who are whole and healed by the grace of Jesus. And, let’s always remember that no matter what you face or how you feel, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength!
Books and Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- Invisible: How You Feel Is Not Who You Are
- Invisible for Young Women: How You Feel Is Not Who You Are
- Hosea: Unfailing Love Changes Everything
Stuff I Love
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How do you handle interactions with mean girls?