I’ve been struggling lately with mean people. One person pretends they’re my friend but then says and does things that are less than kind fairly often. Other people have been hostile or outright mean for seemingly no reason.
The problem with meanness is that you can’t always predict it, expect it, avoid it or reason with it. That leaves having to deal with it… which, at least for me, is easier said than done.
When people are mean, I think our default reaction runs the gamut from surprised to defensive to hurt to angry. Our instinctive feelings aren’t necessarily wrong – in and of themselves – but how we respond can be, if we’re not careful.
One of my favorite books when I was growing up was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I really like what one of the characters had to say about mean people. “Because they are mean is no reason why I should be. I hate such things, and though I think I’ve a right to be hurt, I don’t intend to show it.”
When confronted with meanness, sometimes it’s best to just distance ourselves from the person or situation but sometimes that’s not possible or practical. Sometimes it’s wisest to remain silent, or to be kind, or to be diplomatic. Sometimes it’s necessary to be firm.
Every situation calls for a potentially different reaction but the one reaction that’s never right is meanness. The Bible doesn’t say that it’s wrong to be angry but it does say, “in your anger, do not sin.”
The only thing worse than dealing with mean is being mean. It says something about someone if they’re mean to us but it’s says volumes about us if we’re mean in return.
I’m still working on handling mean people. I would like to be wiser in the moment. My current strategy is to do my best to be slow to respond or react. I would much rather ask God for permission about what to say and when to say it than to have to ask for forgiveness for speaking in haste and regretting it.
I would rather be a Charlie Brown than a Lucy.
I mean that sincerely…