Am I a Mean Girl?
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Philippians 2:3 (ESV)
Sitting in the hair salon, I asked the stylist if she could get me a refill of my make-up. The sweet woman helping me returned with bad news.
"We don't have the refills, but we have a new compact. Would you like that?" she asked, apologetically.
Knowing how busy my schedule was, I answered matter-of-factly, "I'll have to get it somewhere else." I was annoyed and it showed.
That's when I realized something: I have the potential to be a mean girl.
How I wish I could have exchanged my bad attitude in the salon with the humble one I witnessed just one hour later at the grocery store.
Standing in the checkout line, I watched as a white-haired lady began to put her groceries on the conveyor belt. She caught my attention because her sweater was funky and full of life.
She'd already put a few items on the counter when the cashier said, "I'm sorry, ma'am. I'm closing."
"Oh, sweetheart," that dear woman replied, as she placed her red cabbage back in her cart. "I bet you're just about to have a nice lunch. Or get off for the day. Oh, I hope it's that! Enjoy!" And off she went in her eccentric sweater and spunky spirit.
She changed the entire atmosphere with her kindness to the cashier that had shooed her away.
I want to be like that. But too often I'm not.
When I got home, I turned to my Bible—the one thing that could help me change. I flipped it open to read the mean girl story of Sarai and Hagar found in Genesis 16.
Sarai wasn't able to have children. Knowing this was important to her husband, Abram, Sarai told him to marry and have a child with her maid, Hagar. Sure enough, Hagar conceived.
The Bible says, "When [Hagar] knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress" (Genesis 16:4 NIV). The Hebrew word for despise means "to be of little account." In other words, Hagar thought Sarai was unimportant. It didn't take long for Sarai to pick up on her maid's haughty attitude, and Sarai began to disdain Hagar and treat her poorly.
Instead of caring about the hurt the other was feeling or talking through the burdens each woman was carrying, Sarai and Hagar allowed bitterness and envy to infiltrate their relationship. Their feud ultimately affected both their families, causing division.
Many of us have experienced discord in our family because of two mean girls. A small misunderstanding and lack of clear communication can turn a simple conversation into a lifetime argument. This may result in families not talking to each other, spending holidays apart, or not helping one another in times of need. When women allow their inner mean girl to come out, it can divide entire families.
The way we treat others impacts everyone, especially our children. If they see a mean girl in us, they very likely will copy our behavior. However, if they find us loving others, they hopefully will copy our example.
When we allow the mean girl in us to come out, it's usually because we see ourselves as more important than someone else. And that kind of vision is the opposite of God's instruction for us: to see others as more important than ourselves.
Today, let's put into practice Philippians 2:3, "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves" (ESV). It might not be easy at first. But seeing others as more important than ourselves will help keep our inner mean girl at bay and hopefully maintain peace in our families.
Lord, I tend to see myself as if I'm in one of those mirrors that make images appear larger than they really are. Help me see the value in everyone I meet—from my own children to the cashier at the grocery store. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
What encounters did you have in the last 24 hours that may prove there is an inner mean girl in you?
Next time you feel your inner mean girl coming out, make an effort to be kind: ask the other person how they are, offer to help them with a task, or text them a quick note of encouragement.
Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (NIV)