How to Handle a Mean Girl

For those reading Lisa Harper’s book, Stumbling Into Grace, along with my small group, today’s devotional will match up with her fourth chapter: “No Fangs Allowed.”

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Mean girls strike fear into the hearts of moms everywhere.  They certainly make this momma drop to her knees.

I’ve begun praying once a week with some other moms for our kids and their school.  As we’ve prayed together, I’ve discovered that we moms share the same concerns for our kids.  We pray for their academics, sure, but mostly we pray for their hearts.

We pray they will be a light in dark places and that they will choose good friends.  We ask that our kids will not be too sensitive and will know how to respond in tough situations.

So when my daughter announced this weekend that there was a girl at her school table that she chose not to play with, I pounced with my mom questions.

“Well,” my daughter said, “when other people don’t do things the way she wants, she always says, ‘You can’t be my friend anymore.’  So, I told her that’s okay if she doesn’t want to be friends with me.”

Wow!  Here I was afraid of permanent devastation wrought at the hands of other children and my daughter handled this with calm grace and confidence. She knew that friendship is too valuable to use as manipulative weaponry in the social arsenal.

It was the kind of answer I’ve been praying my daughter is able to give.  Praise God that He answers our prayers for our children.

But, it’s not just our kids who need to make decisions about whom to befriend or how to answer detractors, nay-sayers, judgers, and mockers.

In her book, Stumbling Into Grace, Lisa Harper writes:

“I want to recognize the dangerous, potentially biting characters in my story; the people who create constant emotional debris with their destructive personalities or who refuse to shed the skin of deception, the ones who threaten the God-with-me peace in my life.  I’m learning to keep my distance and to  pray for snakes, but not make a habit of getting down in the dirt to play with them” (p. 47).

In our lives, we’ll face some biting personalities and snakes in the grass ourselves–even when we are simply pursuing righteousness, just like Hannah did in 1 Samuel.

Hannah was a Godly woman.  Religious law dictated that men must travel to the tabernacle three times a year to worship and sacrifice, but we see in 1 Samuel 1:7 that “year by year, she went up to the house of the Lord.”  She committed to going above and beyond the minimum requirements in order to worship God with her whole heart.

But, this Godly woman had a struggle, a personal pain that cut deep.  She was childless while her husband’s second wife, Peninnah, was a bunny rabbit of a breeder.  Scripture doesn’t even count all her kids; it just says, “Peninnah . . and  . . . all her sons and daughters” (1 Samuel 1:4).  Sounds like quite a brood.

The worst part of it is, that Peninnah gloated.  She boasted and preened.  She set herself up as Hannah’s rival and “provoked her severely, to make her miserable”  (1 Samuel 1:6).

Peninnah was a mean girl.

But it wasn’t just Peninnah who was the problem.  There was also Hannah’s husband, Elkanah.  He truly loved Hannah and he was sad about her distress.

Still, there’s something kind of clueless about Elkanah’s compassion.  He said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep?  Why do you not eat?  And why is your heart grieved?  Am I not better to you than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8).

Seriously?  He didn’t tell Peninnah to knock off the nastiness.  Instead, he told Hannah, the innocent one, to just get over it. Just be happy with the fact that she shared a home and husband with a woman who had annual baby showers when she herself could not get pregnant.  Just shrug off Peninnah’s provoking ways and be happy with her husband’s love.

Elkanah was an unhelpful friend.  He didn’t stand up for Hannah, didn’t have her back, and wasn’t concerned with the true depth of her pain.

Then there was Eli, the priest who watched Hannah’s impassioned prayer at the altar.  He pounced on her in a second, saying, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!” (1 Samuel 1:14).

Eli was the judgmental onlooker.  The one with all the opinions who doesn’t even take time to fully understand the situation, just makes accusations and spews forth a diatribe of assumptions and personal attacks.

Beset on every side by those close to her and those in spiritual authority over her, Hannah nevertheless responded with grace.

She spoke “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). She didn’t rebel against Eli, speak badly about him behind his back, or cause a ruckus in the spiritual community, despite the fact that he hurt her.  Instead, she answered and said, “No, my lord.  I am a woman of sorrowful spirit.  I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:15).

She trusted God to take care of her.  Hannah “was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish” (1 Samuel 1:10).  She took all of her pain to the altar and poured her soul out before God.

And after she held the baby boy God gave her, after she nursed him and weaned him and presented him to the tabernacle, she declared, “Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the Lord is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed” (1 Samuel 1:3).

By Him actions are weighed.  God saw Peninnah in her meanness, Elkanah in his cluelessness, Eli in his pompousness and Hannah in her brokenness.  Hannah placed the entire situation in God’s hands and trusted in His ability to judge and to bless.

We likewise can trust God to help us when we face mean girls, unhelpful friends, and those who judge us.  He will help us know how to love our enemies, pray for those who hurt us, and turn the other cheek, and yet all the while protect us from the venomous bite that comes from stepping too close to the snakes in the grass.

Want to learn more about praying for your kids and their school?  Check out Moms In Touch International.  There are groups of moms, grandmas, and school staff internationally who meet once a week for one hour to pray for our children. You can find a group in your area by searching their website.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

3 thoughts on “How to Handle a Mean Girl

  1. Louise Carlton says:

    I pray for my children that I had over the years, I pray for those in school now and i pray for those in the leadership positions in the school. It is difficutl to see the pain induced by those who are nasty, snakes in the grass people, etc. It pains us to be on the receiving end of trash BUT and I love Gods’ buts that He puts in His word and in our lives. It all seems to be going in a down ward path BUT God steps in and that is the difference~ every time~ God!

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