“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46
Though I am in my forties now, it takes no effort to remember clearly how challenging it was to navigate the social landscape as a teenage girl. Girls sure can be mean, huh?
And now that I have 3 daughters of my own, I wrestle with dreading (and not giving into those fears) the hurt and pain that will accompany different friendships and social experiences in which they will be excluded (or participate in excluding others) from friendship circles.
Ugh….I remember so well the fear that I would get to school and be the ONE who was left out, excluded from the “in” group of current friends. Unfortunately this fear not only crippled me emotionally but it also led to a deeper fear of people and their approval….wanting to be included, to be part of a social group, having friends.
All these desires are a normal part of the human experience. We were made to be in relationships. Sadly, our sinful natures make us insecure and competitive which, in teenage, female social circles, often leads to girls being mean and excluding others. Why?
Because it provides the “excluders” with a sense of power. If I exclude someone else then I have (albeit false) a sense of my own security in the group. Mean girls are just really sad and insecure inside. They only feel powerful when they exclude or are hurtful to other girls.
The problem is, because we are all sinful, we ALL have the potential to be mean girls. What to do!!?? We turn to the cross once again. Whenever I feel left out (yes, it even happens at 42) I turn my eyes to the One who, though He was sinLESS, went to the cross to pay the penalty for MY sins.
Jesus actually was crucified OUTSIDE the city gate, a sign of utter disgrace and disowning by the community. And then even worse, in HIS darkest hour, He cried out to His Father, who turned His back on His only Son in order to win us back and pay for our sins. Jesus was cast out and even abandoned by the Father so that you and I could be forgiven and brought back into a relationship with God Himself, so that we will NEVER be abandoned by God.
There is no social group or clique of friends that can provide that kind of security or acceptance that Jesus has given us in His perfect sacrifice. Let us meditate today on that great love that heals us of our over-desire to be included (insecure) as well as our over-desire for power (fear) that can lead us to exclude others.
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for taking the punishment and eternal exile that I deserve, so that I can be with you forever one day. Help me today to remember your sacrifice for me so I am not afraid and can live secure in your love as I give that inclusive love to others. Amen.