Loving Mean Girls

I nervously climbed the skinny old staircase until I found our new classroom.  It was the first day of language class in our new school and while my husband bought our textbooks in the office, the introvert in me put on my brave face and walked into a classroom full of strangers.  I smiled, noticed two empty seats and sat down to get my things in order.  The other students had taken the previous level together, so my husband and I were the new kids in class.

All around me were students chattering in other languages.  I heard mostly Arabic and Russian, and English did not seem to be the common language among anyone.

“Ooooh hurry up”  I thought as I sat there alone and longed for my husband to come rescue me from the awkwardness I felt. How is it possible to be surrounded by people and yet feel utterly alone? I felt alone, but rehearsed the Truth…

“…for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)!” Hebrews 13:5, Amplified

I tried to mentally review all the language I could think of in that moment, knowing that at any second, the teacher would be joining us and most likely ask me questions in front of everyone.  You have two options in language class: sink or swim.  And while insecurity often rears it’s ugly head, I am slowly but surely learning that it’s ok to make mistakes.

Just then, my entire world changed….

“Get out of my seat” she said in a thick Russian accent.

I’m sure I must have looked like a confused deer in the headlights as I turned around.  Surely she wasn’t talking to me?

Yes, she was talking to me.

In the shock of the moment and with all eyes on me, I acted before I could even process what was happening…

“Ummmm, no this is my seat” I said with a slightly shaky voice.

She started to move my husband’s things to take his seat, and before I could even gather my thoughts, this non-confrontational girl who loves Jesus, forgot holiness and allowed panic to choose her words…

“That’s my husband’s seat” I said in a slightly firmer voice.

“I’m sitting here. He can move”  she confidently shot right back.

This went on for a couple more seconds before another girl rolled her eyes at me and spoke in Russian to my bully.  Eventually the bully chose another open seat which was actually closer to the front, discrediting her excuse of needing my seat so she could be closer to the white board.

The next day was exactly the same.  And the day after that, and the day after that.  No matter where my husband and I sat, different girls would walk in and boldly tell us to move.  And each time we stood our ground and refused.  Although at first I had a hard time telling them no, I was surprised to see how natural it became for me to refuse to serve them.  Sins were snowballing.  I had opened the self centered door of entitlement, and the servant heart I have prayed to possess was nowhere to be found.  I acted tough in class, yet I left and cried.  Culture shock had caught me off guard.  I expect shock from the culture we are here to reach, but I did not expect shock from the other foreigners….oh how I still have so much to learn.

As days turned into weeks, these mean girls, as I called them to myself, grew increasingly closer and the wedge between us grew larger.  They would giggle and talk and invite the other girls in class to coffee or shopping, but they always excluded me.  They would rudely correct me while I was trying to speak to the teacher in a still very foreign language, and they made me feel like we were back in middle school.

I was never actually bullied in school, so I guess you could consider this my initiation into the lonely world of being picked on. Sigh.

Then one day, I overheard these girls talking in class, and one of them started using profanity.  With each f-word that rolled out of her mouth, my mind cringed and my heart jolted back to Life through the Spirit’s conviction.  It’s as though each curse word screamed “lost one” to my heart.  These girls are lost and lost people act lost.  I am one of His rescued ones who is called to live a life that tells the story of redemption…..It was a moment of sorrow for me…

I had not shown them Jesus.

“Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” ~1 John 2:6

Love for Enemies ~ Luke 6:27-36, NLT

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.

 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

Oh what a beautifully hard lesson this has turned out to be. Have you ever been on your way to church to worship God and serve others, yet ignored the homeless man on the side of the road that you passed on your way.  Have you ever been in a rush to make it to Bible study on time, and snapped at your kids out of anger as they made you late.  Have you ever been driving to serve at a local rescue mission, yet yelled at the guy who cut you off on the road.  Have you ever been on your way to church choir practice, yet rudely complained at the girl working at Sonic after she mixed up your order?  Have you ever been preparing your home for guests yet ignored or treated your own children and husband as if they are just in your way?

Have you ever been so focused on what you think you are going to do for God that you forget to surrender your plans daily to the Spirit’s leading?  Have you ever been so focused on your destination that you forget the importance of the journey?

I now realize that I started this class so completely focused on learning this one language so that I could eventually reach this lost people group, that I failed to be the light to the dark souls that were literally surrounding me in class for 20 hours a week.  Tunnel vision for what I want to do someday was blocking the Kingdom work I could do today.

“He has right to interrupt your life. He is Lord. When you accepted Him as Lord, you gave Him the right to help Himself to your life anytime He wants.” ~Henry Blackaby

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

By the grace of God who has turned this country into a classroom, I am learning what it means to live moment by moment in the Spirit – asking Him to speak and move through me and to bring those that are listening to Him into my path.  There is freedom from self-inflicted pressure to perform tasks well for God when I understand that I am simply called to love Him and love others.  With each breath, I am learning to surrender my moments to Him, trusting that as language comes, so will more opportunities to share with the people group I have set out to specifically pour into.  But until those days arrive, there is much loving to be done with whomever He chooses to cross my path.

“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” ~Matthew 22:37-39

My prayer for you is that as people mistreat you or shock you with their unloving actions, that you will take a moment and choose to be slow to anger.  There is an entire world of broken and lost people who are going to act lost….may our lives be marked by love and surrendered to Jesus for His purposes.

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says.” ~James 1:19-22