Wednesday, November 13, 2013

it's a hard knock life... for girls. so go easy on each other.


Mean Girls, making life miserable for girls and women everywhere since... forever!

I remember every encounter I had with means girls growing up; from salt in my hair at a slumber party, to rejection on the playground, to the taunts in PE freshman year, and all the name calling in the halls and whispered rumors behind hands, it was all ridiculously petty, and unfortunately it was also more hurtful than I could have imagined.  

It shouldn't hurt.  It shouldn't matter what so-and-so thinks of me.  At least, that's what I used to tell myself.  But the fact is that it did.  A lot.  As if every girl doesn't have enough of a struggle trying to find her value in a world of such conflicting expectations--be sexy, but don't be a whore; be educated, but don't be a know-it-all; be a good mother, but make sure you can rule the board room too; make the best treats, soccer mom, and while you're at it, get that second degree too; speak up for what you believe in, but don't inconvenience me with it.  What's a girl to do when her own peers, the ones that should be her comrades in arms, the only ones that will ever truly understand her, what is she to do when they turn against her?

I'm left pondering that this afternoon after my daughter had an epic meltdown in the car.  There was a river of tears and echoing sobs and several strings of words I couldn't comprehend and then there was this: "Mom, I don't understand," she said, "why is she so mean to me?"  

My heart broke.

I realized I couldn't protect her from it.  No matter what I did, even if I pulled her out of school and returned to homeschooling, at some point in her life, 'she' will be there.  That mean girl that's always there waiting to take you down, to make you question everything: your outfit, your hairstyle, your smile, your intelligence, your value as a human being.  Mean Girl is never very far away.

I mean, sure, it's a lot easier to see her coming as a adult.  By the time you're in your 20's you've learned to recognize her from at least a mile away.  She's much easier to avoid, there are more places to hide away from her.  But that doesn't make her a mythical creature of the adult realm.  She still there, waiting for prey to expose themselves.  Why?  As Baby Girl asked me just an hour ago, "Why can't we all just be friends and be nice to each other and help each other be better girls?"

Amen, Baby Girl.  Amen.

Here's my theory.  Satan is no imbecile.  He knows the value of a virtuous woman is far above the price of rubies.  He understands how vital we are to God's plans for His children.  Lucifer knows our propensity towards progress, compassion and care-taking.  And he would have us believe you aren't fit for the task.  We will never be good mother, never be intelligent enough, well-spoken enough, and certainly never beautiful enough.  He would have us forget our divine nature.  He has many tactics: he uses men, the media, changing societal values, modern thinking, etc to get us to forget our true value and to instead weigh ourselves on the world's scales instead of the Lord's.  And when all that fails, he has an ace up his sleeve.  He has women to do his destructive work for him.  He has the Mean Girl.  When we, as women, are able to fortify our temples and fight off the onslaught of devaluation from all other fronts, Satan knows our most vulnerable spot: the spot where women, our sisters, those that should understand us better than anyone else, turn against us and attack us with every nasty weapon they've got.

What if instead of letting this happen, instead of dividing our ranks through competition and judgement, what if we combined forces?  If we were to live as sisters instead of competitors, how different would our world be?  And how do we stop the cycle?  Because like it or not, we all participate in it.  Every time we think: well, at least my kids don't act like that; or, I may be a lot of things, but my house is always clean; or, I may not spend hours making myself cover girl material, but at least my kids know I love them.  

Did you catch that?  All those judgements.  Did it hurt your stomach?  Your heart?

Here, does this illustrate it better for you?

Sisters, we have to break the cycle.  We must stop judging each other and we must stop judging ourselves.  We can't do one without the other.  The constant comparison tears us down and distracts us from our purpose and true identity.

How do we fight it?

"Regardless of your particular circumstances, as you become more and more familiar with the truths of the scriptures, you will be more and more effective in keeping the second great commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself. Become scholars of the scriptures—not to put others down, but to lift them up! After all, who has any greater need to “treasure up” the truths of the gospel (on which they may call in their moments of need) than do women and mothers who do so much nurturing and teaching?  Bear in mind... No greater recognition can come to you in this world than to be known as a woman of God. No greater status can be conferred upon you than being a daughter of God who experiences true sisterhood, wifehood, and motherhood, or other tasks which influence lives for good.  

"Among the real heroines in the world who will come into the Church are women who are more concerned with being righteous than with being selfish. These real heroines have true humility, which places a higher value on integrity than on visibility. Remember, it is as wrong to do things just to be seen of women as it is to do things to be seen of men. Great women and men are always more anxious to serve than to have dominion."  Spencer W. Kimball, Role of Righteous Women, October 1979

And what is our blessing?

"Some of the sweetness of sisterhood enjoyed by a worthy woman is the strength and love that comes through close association with other women in shared gospel pursuits. Sisters imbued with the spirit of the Lord have the desire to help others succeed and evidence a kind of selflessness that creates trust and lasting bonds of friendship.

"The informal sisterhood of common challenge and shared opportunity has been a legacy of women for many generations... It is a feeling that translates without interpreter into every tongue. It is the security a woman feels in knowing that another woman understands and cares." Barbara B. Smith, The Bonds of Sisterhood, March 1983

Isn't that what we all desire?  I know I do.

So let's work at being a little kinder.  To ourselves and our sisters out there who are simply trying to do their best.  Give them a little cheer every once in a while.  Give them a smile.  Smile at the girl in the mirror too.  Tell her she's loved.   Tell her you understand, you don't fault her for her short-comings, and more over that you applaud her valiant efforts.  Let her know you see her and that she is glorious.
And then, turn to your sisters all around you and repeat the process.

"We weren't sister's by birth, but we knew from the start
Fate brought us together to be sisters by heart."

Actually, my dear sister by birth bought this statue, 'Sisters', for me.  I love all that it symbolizes.

Just as I have vivid memories of mean girl drama, thankfully, I have been blessed to build many memories of sisterhood with fabulous women all over the world.  You know who you are and I adore you.  Thanks for embracing me, loving me, inspiring me and molding me into a much better woman.  You're the best.  Ever.  And it is my most fervent prayer that some day my Baby Girl, though she may be sister-less by birth, will have a wealth of virtuous and lovely sisters, plenty of shoulders to cry on and to buoy her up.

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