“Mean Girls”…. if you haven’t watched the movie, more than likely you’ve heard of it or at least have a good idea what the plot might reference. For the most part, human behavior follows a predictable pattern. As a child, a person is typically loving and trusting. As a teenager, that same person becomes self-centered and critical of others, almost certainly to the point of mean. Then, usually during college years, a responsible and consistent adult outlook and actions develop. There are those few, however, who are and will remain – MEAN. In the movie, a group of teenage girls band together to form an elite (at least in their eyes) group. They proceed to mock and torture anyone else who does not meet their lofty standards. Predictably, they turn on each other, disband and the process of maturity begins after feelings have been hurt and consequences have been suffered. In real life, the same plot plays out in every middle school and high school across America. Basically, it’s a right of passage that every person participates in, whether they want to or not. Most people outgrow this stage, but there are those few “mean” girls and boys who never manage to grow up. It’s always disheartening when you have to interact with these people. Unfortunately, they live and work among us. It is an unavoidable, unpleasant experience of life.
Recently, I had the disappointing misfortune to cross paths with a few of these malcontents. Human nature takes over during moments like this and propels me to levels of great revenge plotting. Fantasies of lightning bolts flashing from my eyes to zap and torture these “mean” girls run rampant through my mind. Alternately, deep and gaping holes in my heart weigh me down and crush my spirit. At some point, in every person’s life, an experience like this will take you by surprise and will come from someone who should have grown up and from whom you least expect this action. Catty, infantile, mean, hurtful and juvenile are all words that aptly describe these individuals. In the last couple of years, a person who becomes prey to a ‘mean’ girl or boy is actually labeled a victim of bullying. The media has ensured public awareness for this growing problem. Despite this knowledge and labeling, meanness still exists. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people, so the only thing we can do is to choose to respond with love and kindness. This is completely contrary to my first instinct to plot revenge. In order to repay hatefulness with love, I have to actively choose to die to myself and let Jesus love through me. If I react in anger, which is that first human instinct, then I not only do not reflect Jesus and His love, I also become a victim, because anger is a self-consuming emotion. Anger is an active pursuit. It is not passive, but rather is a driving force of reaction to something perceived as insulting or damaging. As a Christian, I am called to a higher standard. Romans 12:2 says that we are “not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” It’s not natural, nor is it easy to react to a negative situation with love. The only way this becomes possible is to have a mind that is focused on Christ.
Think for a moment about Jesus’ three years of ministry on earth. We have only been given a small glimpse into the activity that took place during these 1095 days. Over 60% of our known history of Jesus’ actions is based on His healing of other’s hearts and bodies. The last verse of John says that if all that Jesus did was to be written down, he supposed that there would not be enough books in the world to hold all His activity. This tells me that Jesus loved and He loved a lot. It’s one thing to say you love someone, but actions are the proof. Angry people don’t usually help those to whom their anger is directed. Conversely, someone filled with love is guaranteed to help all. In the same way that anger is an active emotion, so is love. If we are to be like Jesus, then we are to love with our mouths and our actions.
Matthew 5:43-44 ~ 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbors and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”
Mark 12:33 ~ “To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
These are the verses that I am focusing on to ingrain the spirit of love in my heart (the renewing of my mind) in hopes that my first reaction to meanness will become love. I am not quite there, and I am not sure that I will ever get to that level of Christianity, but I strive towards that goal. I can hear the Apostle Paul cheering me as I run the race, pressing toward that mark. The finish line is still in the distance where Jesus sits with crowns and trophies and is ready to say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”. I want to be found faithful on that day. Lord, please help me to love as You have loved me!