A few years ago I watched my little sister get ready for her first year of girls camp. I helped her pack, answered her questions of what it would be like, what the activities would be like. Along with the nerves, I saw so much hope and excitement in her eyes.
She was finally old enough to attend girls camp— to get away from her friends at school who were already starting to like boys, and play on their iPhones. She played it cool, but I could tell she was nervous, what middle school girl wouldn’t be? She’d be walking into a completely new setting with girls she didn’t know.
I couldn’t help but think of all the girls just a few years before who were nervous and unsure of what they were walking into, who arrived and had every 13 year-old girl’s worst nightmare come true. This girls probably left for camp thinking they would get relief from their changing friend at school, and arrived to an overly privileged girl who was used to way too much attention.
Because truth is, I was the mean girl at camp.
I was that girl you see in movies who is exclusive and talks down to all the other girls. That girl who wouldn’t give you the time of day unless you were cool enough. That girl who had too much pride to swallow.
I created enough social distance between myself and the other girls my age to validate what I thought I knew— I was better. My second year at girls camp I couldn’t wait to go back and once again show how much better I was.
By my third year I had become good friends with some older girls and leaders. These women were so fun and cool, all the girls flocked to them. As I spent more and more time with them I saw so many amazing qualities they had and wanted to replicate them in my own life. I wondered what was so different about these ladies, it finally dawned on me— kindness.
I thought of all the women I looked up to outside of girls camp and noticed something— kindness. There are so many things I see in the women I model my life after— grace, intelligence, eloquence, wisdom, but above all I began to see kindness and love.
And when I turned and looked at my own behavior, I was ashamed. I thought I was better than other girls, but I had so much to learn. I thought looking down on the other girls showed my superiority, but I realized it just made me look small.
So I changed. I studied the scriptures and saw how Christ never put himself above other people. I started looking for the lonely girls and befriended them. Even harder, I went back to all the girls I’d snubbed and apologized to them.
This wasn’t easy to write. It’s embarrassing to admit past mistakes. But I think it’s important to talk about how we can change. When we let Christ into our lives, He changes our hearts. He makes us more like Him.
If you’ve been the mean girl, you can change. And if you’ve ever been hurt by a mean girl, I’d like to apologize. I’m so sorry. You should be treated with kindness and respect. Next time we meet, I’ll put my arm around you, ask you about your day and recognize you as a daughter of God.