Like a dagger to the heart…words that slice open what we’ve tried to keep stitched up for so long.
Promises broken. Trust shattered and gossip spread.
Left out. Not on the invitation list. Facebook gives away the grand ole time they had.
What do these hard places have in common? At the source…a mean girl.
Lest we think this concept originated in the past few years—think again. It goes back in history, to a time we can read about in I Samuel.
Let me share some backstory first. Hannah married Elkanah. One of the greatest blessings she looked forward to in this marriage was conceiving a child. I know that feeling. I can remember “trying” for that first one and how disappointed I felt each month that went by and I was clearly not pregnant.
Unlike Hannah, I didn’t have to share my husband. He knows better than that. But Hannah had competition with Elkanah’s second wife, Peninnah. Actually, it wasn’t much of a competition because poor Hannah couldn’t give her husband children. However, lovely wife #2 could.
Well, she wasn’t really all that lovely. Although the Bible doesn’t tell us anything about her physical features, it does give us insight into the type of woman she was—which was quite frankly, a mean girl.
I Samuel 6: Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her.
Here’s some things we learn about mean girls from this story.
1) Mean girls play on our weaknesses. They find our weak spot, what will hurt the most and they go after it with everything they’ve got. They’re relentless. Hannah’s weakness was her inability to produce offspring.
2) Mean girls don’t give up easily. Nothing brings greater satisfaction than causing hurt and pain. So they will do whatever it takes, however long it takes to bring the desired results. Peninnah kept provoking Hannah.
3) Mean girls have a clear goal, to incite a reaction. It’s no fun to mess with someone who doesn’t react. Anger and sorrow are great reactions for the mean girl. It feeds them like a hungry lion devouring its prey. Peninah’s goal was to irritate Hannah to the point she would cry her eyes out and not eat.
Dealing with a mean girl is difficult. Especially when it goes on for a long time. Middle school can feel like forever. Verse 7 of I Samuel tells us this went on year after year for Hannah.
But let me tell you something about mean girls. They don’t just exist in middle and high school. They’re bred in the preschool years. They refine their act in the elementary years. And sometimes they perfect it all in their adult years. Girls and women of all ages can be victims of a mean girl(s).
Dealing with a mean girl isn’t easy. There aren’t 10 steps to stop the mean girl syndrome. You see, we can’t change someone else. We can’t unmake a mean girl. But we can change the way we see ourselves, despite what someone else says about us. We can establish boundaries, when someone is attempting to cross them. We can stand our ground, instead of shrinking back in fear. We can make the choice to not react and instead, to respond in a manner that is God directed.
Hannah teaches us a few other lessons we can learn. We also read in I Samuel how Hannah’s husband would give more food to Hannah than Peninnah received. The point? Hannah was so caught up in being a victim, she failed to see the good in her life. Her husband loved her, regardless of her ability to bear children. We might not be the popular girl or the woman who gets invited to every party, but we have others who love us genuinely. We can’t lose sight of that.
Eventually, God opened Hannah’s womb and she gave birth to Samuel, who would go down in Biblical history. The point? We never know the greater blessings God has in store for us. While we may not be part of the “in crowd” and it may feel like we’ll never have true friends, there is something coming that God has preordained for our lives. Blessings we cannot imagine. Good that we cannot comprehend.
Don’t let any mean girl take from you. You are a daughter of the Most High King. You are royalty. And you are more in Christ than what anyone else thinks of you or says of you. Mean is ugly. Kind is beautiful. Be the beautiful girl. Be the beautiful woman.