Love Is Hard

“You can’t sit here anymore.”

My seventh grade brace-faced, frizzy-haired self felt that plummeting, sickening feeling in my stomach.  Rejection.
“Why not?” I asked the girls who were supposedly close friends.
“We have boyfriends, and you don’t.  This is a ‘boyfriend only’ table now.”

Occurrences like this one happen so often that comedy movies are made to record the culture of junior high and high school.  But to the person they happen to, there is nothing funny about them.  Fortunately, we matured out of our 7th grade days, and many of us remained friends through high school.  But I still remember what happened.  Not because I want to relive junior high, but because I ache for fringe people, people who hang in there with a group and are never quite accepted.  People who seem, well, lost.

I thought when I left adolescence behind that mean girls would be left behind, too. I was wrong.  Insecure teens grow into insecure women.  I was one of them. Whether it be the unheard thoughts of criticizing a woman for how she looks or the somewhat intentional shunning of one who hurt our feelings or not reaching out to someone who is different or we just don’t want to take the time to bring a woman into our private circle, we all have the potential to be a mean girl.  Mean girls cross socio-economic and racial boundaries.  In other words, mean girls aren’t just rich and beautiful or whatever mold we create for them.

Only the power of a relationship with the living Christ can truly change us.  When we give our broken pieces to Him, when we rest in the power of purpose…His purpose…we can love with abandonment.

Isn’t that what Jesus did for us?  Love with abandonment?  It started with His birth, really.  He gave up His rightful place in heaven to become Immanuel, God With Us.  Fully human and fully divine.  And then He submitted Himself to God the Father’s purpose, which was to go to the cross for us.

I have been through times when friendships were hard to come by and mean girls flourished in abundance.  God wants us to be women of grace, not girls who are mean.

Women of grace reach out in the power of love even when it’s out of their comfort zone,  rather than finding protection in numbers.

Women of grace work out differences when they’ve been hurt or offended rather than shunning the offender.

Women of grace help each other grow, as people, as Christians, as mothers and wives, as leaders, even when it involves loving dialogue that is hard.  Mean girls use the faults of other women to feel better about themselves.

Women of grace recognize their own needs for forgiveness and readily forgive others.  Mean girls find reasons why others don’t ever deserve forgiveness.

Yes.  Love. Is. Hard. Let’s be women who love with abandonment and forgive the past.  Even yesterday can be a past that sets the course for a future we regret.