Loving Mean Girls {Redeemed}

She caught my eye the moment I first saw her.  She quietly keeps to herself and she radiates shyness each time she is called on to speak in class.  She is beautiful and she is young and she has mentioned to the class that she doesn’t have one single friend in this country.  The scarf which covers her hair leaves much of her appearance left to the imagination.  She comes from another country known for violence and unrest, and in an attempt to escape what she describes as “no future,” she has moved to this country in hopes of gaining an education.  Like myself, she has not been welcomed into the tightly knit group of girls who I wrote about in my last post.

She and I could not be more different though.  I’ll never forget her words as our class discussed a question on our homework.  The question said that when you are young, you see the world through rose-colored glasses.  As the rest of the class giggled about the question and agreed with it’s content, her expressionless face made a comment under her breath….”no you don’t.”  My husband and I heard and both felt the weight of what her comment meant.  Her life has not been one of freedom and opportunity and the American Dream that we grew up surrounded by.  She intimidates me but she also breaks my heart, and so I have one choice:  allow intimidation and fear to keep my mouth shut, or allow the Truth of the gospel to propel me forward in pursuing her heart which the Lover of her soul has been pursuing since her first moment on this earth.

But remember my last post? Yeah. Me too…

I’ll never forget sitting in class as the Holy Spirit convicted my heart about how I had not shown Jesus to the mean girls.  I’ll never forget looking at the covered girl who catches my attention and feeling sorrow that she had not seen me love the girls who left me out.  I sat there in sorrow.  Had I ruined my witness completely?  I had been so focused on fighting for my rights in class that I had neglected to realize that a pair of shy eyes who most likely have never watched radical love in action, had seen nothing different in me.

Let that sink in for a minute.

My focus on self distracted me from focusing on God which made me oblivious to the Love-starved girl who was focusing on me.

But God is bigger than my failures and hopelessness is something I’m becoming disciplined to flee from.

God’s sovereign plan is bigger than I can understand, and so I decided to leave behind my failure and press on…

“…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 3:13-14

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” ~Philippians 3:12-14, The Message

Moments of failure may whisper    run away    to your heart.  Do not listen.  Run home to Jesus and do not look back.  Clothe your weakness with His strength and simply try again. His grace is sufficient…

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”

~2 Corinthians 12:9, The Message

With a repentant and hopeful heart, I sat out to get to know this young, covered girl.  I tried to make small talk, which she entertained, but I still felt like there were a million miles between the two of us.  Then one day, everything changed.  I was waiting for the bus alone after class.  She walked up to me on the street and as she was approaching me, this went through my head…

“ummmm YAY, here she comes!! Do I invite her over? Maybe she’ll talk to me? ummm I think in her culture, they kiss cheeks to greet each other? Should I do that too??….”

I was nervous and I really had no idea what I was doing, but as soon as she got close enough to say hello, I just flat out hugged her – full embrace, friendship-type-of hug.  And she just stood there.  She stiffened up and her hands never left her pockets.  I was slightly mortified, but just smiled and acted normal. We made a couple seconds of small talk before she bolted in the other direction. I thought for sure I had blown it.

The next day in class, we made a little more small talk.  During one of the breaks, she accidentally spilled her tea all over her desk and books. I instantly dropped what I was doing and rushed to help her clean. I was the only one….and this was huge. While the other girls just watched and continued talking amongst themselves, this girl and I got our hands sticky with tea and tried to salvage her notes.

“You’re really nice to help me” she said

“Oh it’s no big deal…I’m a mom, I’m used to cleaning up messes” I replied while flashing a big smile and placing a hand on her shoulder like a momma would do.

The next day, she saw me walking up to the language school and hurried to catch up with me, putting her arm around me and asking if I was ready for the big exam.  She held my hand as we conversed about how much we had studied and bonded over being nervous.  And as she took my hand and called me her friend, my heart felt like it was about to explode with joy.

It took showing this sweet girl love (by hugging her) and service (by cleaning up one cup of tea) for her heart to begin to soften.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ~Mark 10:45

Jesus served, and therefore I am called to serve.

Only God could take what was meant for harm and use it for His glory.  Only God could take loneliness and exclusion from the girls in my class and use it to create the prefect situation for the Muslim girl and Jesus girl to become friends.  There is no situation too dark or too lonely that cannot be redeemed and used for His glory.  My human failures cannot stop the perfect plan of God.  Over the weekend, I’ve been posting things on Facebook about Jesus and every post has been “liked” by this new friend.  Please pray for her salvation!!

“Failure is a school in which the truth always grows strong.” ~Henry Ward Beecher

Today, as I was sharing with a group of women from back home who faithfully encourage me and cover me in prayer, I got to tell them how loving and serving this girl has opened up her heart to me.  Just then, the precious friend who has spent hours mentoring and loving and serving me over the past several years said something that opened my eyes and gave me so much hope for this girl and our relationship.  She said that my description of hugging this girl reminded her of my own early days of when she first started discipling me…..the days that I would say almost every single time we met “I am so uncomfortable right now.” And that’s exactly the moment that I saw myself in this new friend of mine.  It took me awhile to become comfortable being loved and served and asked the questions like “how are you?” by this mentor who walked closely with me through some of the hardest days of my life. The way she loved me was uncomfortable at first, but deep down I longed to have someone like her in my life.  I often felt very much like the Muslim girl who kept her hands in her pockets and stiffened up as love was lavished.  But it was through faithful loving and serving that my heart completely opened up to the woman who would end up teaching me and shaping me to be who I am today.  I watch her live in freedom and faithful instruction is always on her tongue, but her radical love and service is what made the “I am so uncomfortable right now” comments grow few and far between.

And now it’s my turn. It’s my turn to love and serve and shine as Jesus Himself draws this girl to His heart and teaches her that she can be His.

Prayer in action is love, and love in action is service. Try to give unconditionally whatever a person needs in the moment. The point is to do something, however small, and show you care through your actions by giving your time … We are all God’s children so it is important to share His gifts. Do not worry about why problems exist in the world – just respond to people’s needs … We feel what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but that ocean would be less without that drop.“- Mother Teresa