Writer Shakira Peronet felt challenged by God to look at her “mean girl” behaviour. Here she explains how she now feels that we are called to pray and encourage the weaker parts of the church body and be mindful of those on the outskirts.
There’s always that “mean girl” group at school. The group you love to hate but there’s also a part of you that would love to be liked by them. You want to be significant enough that you are invited to their birthday parties, but not so close that you get clawed by their guy drama, vanity, gossip, and all the tiring stuff in between.
I looked up the meaning of the term “mean girls” - and all of the definitions were linked to bullying, withholding kindness based on appearance, envy, a group founded on status and the belittling of others, a friendship group with a leader founded on aggression and control. Yikes - definitely reminds me of the movie.
So surely this doesn’t exist in church… as all of these behaviours are just flat out wrong and unbiblical? If we are making every effort to love like Jesus , then there is absolutely no place for vanity (1 Samuel 16:7), gossip (Proverbs 16:28) or malicious behaviour (Psalm 36:4) in any relationships. But yet…
Initially when I was thinking about mean girls, I wanted to be dismissive. Of course we don’t have this at church. But as soon as I thought that, God took me down memory lane, and began to show me the showreel of scenarios when people had expressed feeling hurt by me, from not receiving an invitation to my birthday party, or a girls holiday or even just dinner, I seemed to have a habit of making people feel excluded - The Uninvited Guest. To my shame I was often baffled, sometimes even irritated when they would come and share with me how they felt about not being able to join in on the fun.
For them I was the mean girl… maybe we were all mean girls!
In my mind I was thinking: “But why do you care? I am not waiting for an invite to whatever you’re doing!” And then it dawned on me.. I needed to take heed of this pattern. The reason I had no idea what they were feeling, is because I was enjoying life being with the people they wanted to be with too. For them I was the mean girl… maybe we were all mean girls! I needed to be compassionate not irritated, I needed to pursue understanding rather than being defensive that my intentions were pure.
I quickly realised that when five friends can all go out for dinner and it’s great, we call it fellowship. I might see a picture of the group on social media, and like the picture with a comment “you guys look amazing!” But if it’s a group that I want to be a part of, and I felt I wanted to be there but never got an invite, somehow that same group doesn’t seem quite so beautiful. In fact I feel indignant that this isn’t right that they were together without me, I feel bitterness and envy, and sometimes my wounded heart calls that group a “clique” and I comfort myself in thinking that this group is cruel to not have invited me, and I am more holy because just like Jesus I am experiencing rejection too (Isaiah 53:3).
Sometimes the Uninvited Guest is absolutely right, they are witnessing a group of people being exclusive, and meeting their own needs rather than considering the needs of others, and this should be challenged. Other times it’s a group of friends getting together to talk about some more personal aspects of their life and they just need a familiar group and safe space. Of course they can do that without having to invite everyone.
I feel bitterness and envy, and sometimes my wounded heart calls that group a “clique” and I comfort myself in thinking that this group is cruel to not have invited me.
There will be times when all of us experience being the Uninvited Guest, we must find peace in that silence, and really ask to learn the lesson that God is teaching us. Perhaps we have been protected from an environment that won’t edify us? Maybe we just haven’t invested in people deeply, loved sacrificially and that’s why we are often missing on guest lists? Learn the lesson God is teaching you.
If you’re like me and often perceived as the “mean girl”, perhaps this is a call to be more mindful of those on the outskirts. Use your popularity for the good of the Church, pray and encourage the weaker parts of the body - they’re indispensable! Don’t become proud, or disconnected but instead pursue understanding and have a friendship group known for being an encouragement to others.
Regardless of if you are often the Uninvited Guest or the “mean girl” we need to have a heart to assume the best in one another, and to ask questions before making assumptions. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8.