This post takes up where the last left off. Please know that my goal in writing about bullies and mean girls is not to air my dirty laundry or to point fingers at bad behavior. The fact is, if I’m really honest, there’s probably someone out there who would accuse me of being a meanie.
So let’s approach this topic with humility, shall we? Let’s make it our goal, not only to gain some skill in navigating tough interactions, but also to recommit ourselves to kindness-especially in our relationships with other women. It’s exceedingly rare to find a spirit of generosity between women in professional, personal, and even in church life.
Now, let’s get down to business. After we’ve identified mean girl behavior, called it out, and sought advice, what next? In my experience with these tough situations, it’s been very tempting to develop a “me versus them” viewpoint. The worse the bullying behavior becomes, the more tempted I am to turn the mean girl into a villian and gather forces to defend myself.
As tempting as this approach can be, a better use of our energy is to take the circumstances to a higher level by following the next three steps.
Form a plan
This may be as straightforward as deciding to avoid the bully. While not always possible, there is wisdom in choosing a new group, or even a new job, if there is no hope for change in a poisonous situation. If a change isn’t possible or you feel led to confront the bully, find organizational backup or include someone else who is also affected or willing to side with you. Prayerfully talk through your plan, resolving your options if the interaction ends poorly.
Pray for protection
Remember, there is always a spiritual component at work, but avoid “spiritualizing” the situation in order to procrastinate in dealing with it. Simply ask God to shelter you and equip you with the discernment and pure motives you need moving forward. Ask Him to guard you from any damage to your health, your peace of mind, or your future success and reputation. Remind Yourself of His power over circumstances, both in your life and in that of the bully.
I have witnessed unexplained job transfers and even sudden family and health concerns that completely changed the playing field surrounding bullying behavior. Remind yourself of God’s power to work in whatever we He chooses.
Pray for the mean girl
Yes, it sounds trite. But praying for a persecutor is not only Biblical, it also frees you to consider a positive outcome. We so often get stuck in our own ways of processing situations and emotions. When we bring these tangled feelings to God, we allow Him to lift the burden off our shoulders, and also to keep our spirit from becoming hardened and bitter toward the person.
Here are some specific prayer asks:
Provide any additional information that would help me develop empathy for this person, while still keeping me at a safe distance.
Soften the will and emotion of the mean girl, so she is open to another way of behaving.
Bring all evil plans to nothing. If there is some kind of negative plan directed toward my harm, I ask You to bring it down.
I ask You to bring unexpected blessing to this woman. Give me the opportunity to share that this was an answer to my prayer.
I’m going to be completely honest and tell you this is the most challenging step for me. Human nature usually veers toward revenge rather than mercy. When someone does me wrong, I crave justice. But praying blessing on my enemy, even though those prayers are initially insincere, leaves room for a heart change. Instead of seeing my bully brought down, my end goal becomes God’s grace in the situation.
And that, my friends, is nothing but Jesus. Everyone around us will see Him, because they will know that kind of grace is impossible in the human realm. As His followers, that’s what we’re after, right?