About the Author

Jennifer Dukes Lee is the author of several books, including Growing Slow. She and her husband live on the family farm, raising crops, pigs, and two humans. She’s a fan of dark chocolate, emojis, eighties music, bright lipstick, and Netflix binges. She wants to live life in such a way...

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Reader Interactions


  1. Kindness is pure Holy Spirit fruit! On our own, we are incapable, but with God in us…..we can choose all you’ve suggested. Thank you for words that spur us on in love! Hard but so very necessary.

      • Thank you so much Jennifer for your comments. I am constantly dealing with mean girls at work. They take pleasure in seeing me hurt. I can choose to return the favour with Gods kindness. God is so good.

        • Me too, Pauline! It’s sooo hard to turn the other cheek. Let’s all pray for each other that this will behavior will stop.

    • Dear Jennifer,
      I love this! As a former teacher (Primary & Middle school and now school counselor) last year I told kids to have as their class motto “BE KIND”. As you say it is contagious and yet sadly we live at times when kindness doesn’t seem to come naturally to people and many end up hurt or bitter. Yet as it is a fruit of His Spirit let’s encourage each other wherever we are to put on kindness…………it sure does wonders in a hurting and cynical world!
      Bless you for writing as you did with such transparency sharing your honest struggle and the need to react and yet choosing to respond with kindness!
      sal (sri Lanka)

    • I really needed to hear thisomething now. How do I teach these mean people that they are mean?

      • It’s my experience that we only add fuel to the fire when we try to teach someone something they haven’t asked to learn. One can’t go wrong by praying for the Holy Spirit to convict them. If you are brave, you can own your side it, by saying something like, “it hurts my feelings when you speak so harshly to me.” You’ll learn a lot about them by their response.

    • Thinking on what Kellie McKnight said I believe as Christians we are more than privileged to have the Holy Spirit on our side and to know that loving kindness is a fruit of that Spirit.
      However I have met many non christian folk who are far better than I at exercising kindness in the midst of adversity.
      I thank God for such folk .
      His grace is sufficient thank goodness.
      Thanks for encouragement. Xx

      • You can “teach” mean people not to be mean. My grandmother used to say it was like teaching a pig to fly…it doesn’t work and it irritates the heck out of the pig. The best way to teach is by example. Let the kindness and mercy God has shown us shine in you. T

  2. Absolutely! When we practice the kindness of Jesus, we end the “cycle of meanness” — and, hopefully, do a bit of redemptive teaching in the process!

  3. I don’t have the exact quote, not the author of it, but sometimes those who act out of meanness do so because they are on a deeper level just sad (or perhaps anxious, or fearful, or feeling inadequate) and are expressing meanness because they want to feel like someone else knows their pain. As a society we’ve somehow lost our ability to share our vulnerability in appropriate ways. I’m thankful for your insight, because as Jesus taught there is strength in what the world views as weakness. Whether the person who was mean ever comes around to recognizing it’s inappropriateness, your prayer for her strengthens you. She actually gave you a gift from God, allowing Him to use evil to create good. Thank you for being open to His call for compassion for your enemy. Mike

    • Wow. Spot on, Jennifer! And at the perfect time for me. I appreciate your honesty. I know I waste a lot of energy saying means things back in mind followed by feeling guilty. Great advice. Thank you. Your words are truly GOD-breathed.

  4. I love this! I have always believed that kindness is catching-mean is sad. Sitting behind a screen and dishing out meanness is a sad sad thing. Hurt people — hurt people. Choosing to rise above and praying for that person is helpful. Thank-you for this writing.

  5. Very good and timely article. Your message really hit home. I have been struggling with someone’s mean words shot at me like an arrow right through my heart. This seems to be a reoccurring pattern with her. It’s really hard when it’s your grown daughter and I am not really sure how to handle it. But I did exactly what you said in your article and felt the pain. I cried over it and then I prayed. A lot. Low and behold here is your article, seemingly meant for me to read. It is time for me to distance myself a little just until I find the courage and right words to say to her. I love her dearly, but I must show her I love myself as well and see where all this meanness is coming from. But, I will handle it with kindness. Thank you and thank God for His perfect timing. Prayer heard and answered.

    • Ann,
      I am right there with you…my “adult” daughter has said such mean and ugly things to me and yes, it feels like an arrow straight through the heart. I can’t count the number of tears I have shed over this. If you read my response below, anger is a masking emotion for fear and hurt or sadness. I know I haven’t been a perfect mother, but I’ve been a darn good one and like you, I wonder where all this anger comes from?? I agree with you that you should show love to yourself. God doesn’t expect us to be punching bags. I do know that this rising generation is way too self absorbed and self centered. Know that I am right there with you, praying for you and your daughter. Will you pray for me too? I have had to distance myself from my daughter, as much as it hurts, for my own mental well being….this is okay!

      • Dear Bev,
        I will pray for you and your daughter and I appreciate your prayers. I felt like I was a good mom too. I am still a good mom, but I don’t think my daughters see who I really am. Honestly, sometimes I dont know what goes through their minds. I know if I say the wrong thing or have a different opinion, I am admonished. I know for sure it is time to let go. There has been too much pain. Although, my biggest fear is that my heart will become hard and I will forget how to love. I don’t want that to happen, but I feel like I am on the peripheral of their lives looking in anyway. I wait. I wait for them to visit. I wait for them to call. I wait for them to say’hey mom, come along”. Maybe I expect too much. I don’t think so. Maybe I watch too many Hallmark movies. Maybe. I know for sure it’s time to stop waiting and move on. I’m glad I wrote on this post. Somehow, I don’t feel quite as alone as I did before. Thank you for sharing your story with me. Thank you for your prayers. Take care of yourself.
        In faith,

    • Oh Ann … This: “I love her dearly, but I must show her I love myself as well.”

      I am so sorry. What a painful experience. It’s one thing to experience meanness from a stranger — as I did in my inbox. It’s a whole other thing to experience it from someone whom you’ve poured so much love into. Praying for you as you take the time you need to process all of this.

      • Thank you Jennifer. It’s not always easy, but I am beginning to understand. I must take a step back and let go. I need to focus more on God and what He wants me to do with my life. I’m glad I read your article. I just signed onto the site yesterday to receive emails. Yesterday was a bad day. I did a lot of praying last night and a lot of crying. I think God is trying to tell me everything will be okay and I am not as alone as I feel like I am.
        Thanks again.

  6. Gosh, this is totally hitting home with me. I’ve been working on becoming a better leader at work and leading by example. Hard to do when I let frustrations and anger win with rude clients. This is something I’m very aware of and working hard to correct and this post just drove it home. I want the cycle of meanness to end with me and for my kindness to be contagious. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • JH … It can be so hard when you are surrounded by people who are rude, uncaring, and outright mean. Someone once said that we become like the five people we are around the most. By necessity, some of us are around people who are negative, because they live in our own homes, or work beside us at the office. I hope and pray that your kindness is contagious — that you can influence your environment, more than it influences you. That is no small task. But you have a terrific advantage — you have the Holy Spirit working inside of you, and the Holy Spirit gives you a fruit of the spirit called KINDNESS. Praying for you as you navigate this!

  7. Jennifer,
    I’ve heard it said that hurt people, hurt people. I do believe that hurting people will act out in mean ways. Anger is a masking emotion for fear and hurt or sadness. Usually when people are angry and lashing out there is something deeper going on. Like you said, narcissism and a self centered attitude also play into it. When it’s “all about you” then you really don’t care whose toes you step on. I am dealing with this right now with a family member. It’s one thing when the bully exists in cyber space, but when you have to deal with them in up-close-and-personal real life, it’s another thing. I believe when we continually offer and extend kindness, compassion, and forgiveness and we get the same old meanness then God would give His blessing to walk away. After all, we are His child too and He doesn’t ask us to continually set ourselves up for abuse of the tongue. When we turn the other cheek, sometimes in essence we are turning our face away from the one who hurt us. I believe that, at times, God needs me out of the way from trying to “fix” it so that HE can deal with the person one on one with their undivided attention. If we can’t “kill ’em with kindness” as my dad would say, sometimes we simply need to walk away. It doesn’t mean that we still don’t extend compassion and forgiveness.
    Blessings and thanks for a post that hits close to home,
    Bev xx

    • I, too, have been hurt by people in my own life, although the example here was from cyberspace. So I understand the pain of which you speak. My own words come from a place of woundedness. Praying for you, Bev.

  8. This rings so true in my life right now. There have been so many moments lately that I have allowed myself to get mean right back at the person, knowing all too well that I shouldn’t. I love this reminder that while we can’t control what other people do and how they act, we CAN control our own words and actions. And when we strive to look like Christ every day, kindness and love should be at the forefront of our reactions.

    • Thanks for reading and for being here, Keri. You’re absolutely right — we can’t control what other people do and how they act, but we CAN control own our words and actions. I am also a firm believer that we can take better control over our thought life, not allowing others’ negativity to infect our souls.

  9. Wow this spoke to me about an incident I was dealt a year ago. Yes, spot on for assessment of mean person motives and Christian response to be kind. Thank you.

  10. This is holy truth.

    I too am learning this lesson and wrestling it out on a daily basis. It is SO hard at times but Jesus calls us to something bigger and better.

    Thank you for this encouragement and reminder again to be kind.

    God bless.

  11. Thank you, Jennifer for sharing your insights and experience. I know I can learn from them. Being kind when someone has wronged you requires Holy Spirit strength, thank goodness He’s willing to make us strong when we are weak!

  12. Wonderful reminder of how we can walk closer in His footsteps and draw closer to Him by being kinder to others and spreading kindness.
    Thank you so much for your reminder not to respond in kind but with His love! I will try to remember your words as I walk through each day. Please continue in your wonderful work you do!

  13. Jennifer, I so appreciate this post….especially in this age of violence and vitriol. Your attitude is biblical and it’s desperately needed. I agree with your friend, Bev, above, who said that “hurt people hurt people.” Likely there is something below the surface with people who need to sit up at 3:30 am and hurl insults. I could think of a few things, and jealousy comes to mind. I find it helps to walk around in people’s shoes to know why they are in pain (and granted, you didn’t know this person. But even imagining what it feels like to be so alienated and insulting helps us realize it’s not a good feeling… and that person is likely in deep pain). Praying for our enemies as you did is also so important, because Jesus did it and Jesus tells us to do it. And being kind to those who level insults opens the way for sharing the Gospel. Most people would trade insult for insult. I suspect that this person wanted a rise from you. You have been gracious, and just maybe, s/he will come back to read more about who you are and why you behave as you do… and that person may just find Jesus because of your example. I will tell you this: When Christians are vicious, they surely damage the Gospel. One of my most powerful mentors is not a Christian. She has been lambasted by Christians for not voting for our soon-to-be new president. This is amazing to me, but I’ve seen it (I myself experienced it because I couldn’t bring myself to vote for either candidate, because of their actions and views; I voted 3rd party). Anyway!!!…. my mentor wrote on her blog, after being lathered with strong expletives, that she chose to respond in kindness, and that she was going to continue to do so. She wrote on about how she treated this person, and it was poignant and loving and generous. The non-Christian was exemplifying a Christian virtue, and I believe put that Christian to shame. And one final quick observation, I think that the virtual world is encouraging many times lack of virtue (ironically, when you consider that both words share the same root). When we are interacting with a screen and not a person in-person, it gives us a bravado that is leading to narcissistic meanness. There is a temptation to say whatever you want, that likely you wouldn’t do in person. It’s a good reminder for all of us. Thank you so much for a much-needed post! Love you, Jennifer.

    • Look within yourselves and think or ask about how YOU might be coming across to people as well. Are you arrogant? Bragging about your wonderful life to those who suffer? Sarcastic? Discriminatory? Withholding secrets? I would rather see someone as lacking love and attention than label them narcissistic. I would rather see someone as intense or emotional and misunderstood than label them as bipolar, etc. Labels today ruin lives and discriminate. I know a lovely woman whose friends and family withheld major secrets and data from her that would have improved her entire life. Instead, she became stressed and had breakdowns and became rightfully angry. The secrets spread all over and others mocked her and belittled and insulted her and shunned her. Her family knew this and did nothing to protect her or show love. Cruel begets anger and can create mental instability. Mental instability begets shunning and snowballs. You get the picture. Listening and compassion is love. Love one another. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Not just when you feel like it. Stop labeling people or believing lies from haters who spread rumors to destroy.

  14. Dear Jennifer,
    We all need to hear this message and live by it now more than ever!! Thank you for your inspiration and encouragement. Have you considered sending a copy of this message to our about to be President? Kindness and understanding guided by love for our fellowman are desperately need to heal this pain our country is currently experiencing. Thank you again. I am printing this to carry in my Bible.

  15. Jennifer,
    We’ve had a saying with our kids through the years, “Be kind-except in football”. Our boys just had a hard time transitioning their kindness to the tackling. We laugh about it, but are encouraged that kindness is one of the strongest values they’ve learned.
    Thanks for writing. Sharing this with a friend who’s struggling with mean co-workers!

  16. I love the application for family life. That is where I am most likely to let my guard down and grit my teeth in anger/frustration. Making kindness the rule will help diffuse those testy situations. Thanks!

  17. Would some of you mind to pray for a few unspoken requests? I would really appreciate it. Thank you ❤

    • Dear Jesus I pray for ‘unspoken’ that greater grace be upon her and her situation. May you hold her close to you, pouring into her heart your healing balm. May so much of your presence saturate her that whatever the enemy is using human vessels to wound, will just quench every fiery darts, in Jesus name amen. May you cause her to focus on you and hold onto you, reminding her that you are her eternity, not the present situation (s). Hallelujah! Glory to your name in the highest!

  18. Thank you very much for the good reminder. Recently, I received one such treatment. I was seething with anger as I was reminded of a continuous period of ‘bully’ some years back. Really appreciate your sharing to help bring me back to the right track of what God wants us, as His children to follow Christ example rather than pay back what was done to hurt us.

  19. Excellent article!! Thank you for speaking to the heart! Literally! We need to have a heart as believers in the Almighty that responds the way He would! I am tempted to reply the es I feel but you are so right! We need to reply with compassion and nip evil in the bud! Planting seeds of kindness in the soil of hearts that so obviously need grace and healing! This hit home!! Words from above! Thank you for spreading love not hate!!

  20. So basically simple! But judging from the number of comments, so profoundly applicable! I know it is for me! Wonderful, life-giving words!

  21. Jennifer,

    I have dealt with a mean person. She was my boss/office manager. It was like nails grating on a chalkboard. I was always nice to her and asked about her parents, etc. She was so controlling that 6 people have left that office. For me I deal with mean and unkind people by biting my tongue so as not to say the wrong things and show Christ-like attitudes. When I see people in a bad mood or unhappy I try to smile, say hello, thank you and have a nice day. Want them to know they are appreciated. God only knows what they are going through. Yes! Kindness works wonders!!

    Blessings 🙂

  22. I laughed because I’m on my third set of lamps in our family room. 😉 I’m so sorry that you received that email. It’s so hard to tame our reactions sometimes. I love your suggestions and the way you handled this.

  23. I needed to read this! I’m not dealing with meanness from someone but am equally frustrated. I’m trying to be more positive and yet this one person always seems to be annoyed by me. My excitement about something or upbeat attitude isn’t contagious at all. Instead, I end up feeling worse. It’s like I let them steal my joy. If only I could rise above this co-dependency problem. I need to bite my tongue and be kind regardless of another person’s response or lack of response. It.is.so.hard.

  24. This speaks to me so much today. I was just commenting to friends this morning that social media was starting to wear on me to the point that I was beginning to take it personally the comments attributed to anyone who calls themselves conservative. The political climate has brought out so much meanness that I hardly recognize some people. Thank you for the reminder of steps to take to practice kindness. I especially appreciate this on a day when we celebrate someone who worked hard to practice kindness, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Thank you.

  25. Jennifer, I so appreciate this post, as always. Unhappy people sometimes try to make others unhappy as well. It’s my guess that the subscriber (who must see value in your posts or s/he wouldn’t subscribe), may be envious or your writing or is jealous of your online platform, and his/her attempt to cut you down in such a mean-spirited way is a feeble attempt to live the self up. In another vein, how I wish our politicians could take heed of your words! “Mean is a weak person’s disguise of strength and power.” It takes strength to be kind and it takes time. Our culture so seldom sees the virtue of kindness and humility modeled from the top of the power structure, yet it’s the way of Jesus.

  26. Thank you, Jennifer, for your heartfelt post. It’s hard to choose kindness, when I’m facing mean comments or bullying behaviors, but I do know it’s what I want to do. I think that one of the ways we can help kindness to grow is through educating our young children, which I try to do when I write about books with themes of kindness and empathy. I interact with a wonderful group of moms through my blog and Instagram feed who are looking for books that will inspire their little ones to make a kinder world. I pray that they will do just that.

  27. Thank you for this great reminder. I am dealing with my own sister who is very mean to me most of the time. And when I try to be kind back it usually back fires. But through prayer and much thought I am realizing that her meanness comes out because she is feeling badly about herself. Just that one thought has made all the difference to me. And in regards to the telemarketers who call, I observed a dear friend handle this so wonderfully. She sweetly listened to him and then politely thanked him and said she wasn’t interested. Took only a few minutes but left both of them feeling good about the experience. And I think that is one of the keys, when we are mean, it ruins our own moods and even our whole day. Kindness is never the wrong choice.

    • How would you handle a telemarketer whom you have asked to put you on the do not call list and they call you back ten more times? Sweetly and politely or how? Do you live with your sister? Sibling rivalry can be lifelong and you can either avoid her or work hard at finding out where her anger comes from and trying to make peace. Negativity and the unthinkable exist in this world and kindness is a start but not always the ultimate solution. People need to accept that some are suffering from deeper matters of abuse and neglect and more. Judgment is not a panacea. Prayer is a tool but sometimes only a bandaid. Kind actions speaker louder than words. Consistency in kind actions, not a one time deal.

  28. This was spot on for me too. I’ve got a very spiteful, bitter mother. She hasn’t got nice word to say to me but criticise me and puts me down. So I’ve cut back on visiting her at her house. I just can’t take it any more. My older Brother’s the favourite, perfect son. So I’m praying from afar for her Salvation.


    • Maggie, It is unfair a parent chooses a favorite child. That encourages sibling rivalry and anger and jealousy toward sibling and parent. Sounds like alot of anger in that household. Perhaps you three can get some family counseling going and work on the anger and get to the root of it before it grows bigger. Many times the big issue in families is not listening to one another and lack of communication. Sorry you are experiencing this.

  29. Once I was at a women’s retreat. Our weekend there had been so prayed over that the whole place was enveloped in a covering of God’s love. One of my roommates was just plain mean and grumpy. The more mean things she said and did the funnier and more out of place her behavior seemed. We can change the atmosphere like that wherever we are. Ask Jesus to fill you with his love. You will see people from a different prospective and what they do won’t matter as much.

  30. “In this world Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. For years I was smart, now I choose pleasant” Elwood P. Dowd (Harvey).

    One of my favorite quotes (and movie).
    So so true.

  31. Your timing is perfect! There are so many mean words being said by both sides because of the recent presidential election. We all need to remember Matthew 5:44 and be kind to those who disagree with us in a hateful way.

  32. Well said, Jennifer! Amen! Amen! I feel like many days we swim in a soup of meanness and sadly, I am convinced it is contagious because it seems to keep growing and infecting others.

  33. Thank you for that poignant reminder, Jennifer. It’s getting harder and harder to be His light as the world around us gets meaner and even more spiteful. I’m reminded that it’s only through God’s power that I can be still and be kind.

  34. Thank you Jennifer!

    Love this post… And I can so truly relate to it!

    Maybe my experience can help someone else:

    Some 36 years ago, I had a very nasty, rude, well—plain old “mean” best/work friend. We were friends for a few years and she actually inspired me to be better. A better cook, a better gardener, a kitty mama (she gave me my first kitty in 1984), and to take care of myself… We did lots of stuff together outside of work. But she was an angry, critical, and mean person. Especially to me, her “whipping post” (as I found out years later everyone was calling me behind my back at work). I thought I could save her from herself if I just showed her some love and kindness. I was totally wrong!

    This woman was exactly your definition of meanness: “What I feel matters most. I have no empathy for you. If you are in the way, I will run you over.”

    Some examples: A few years into our friendship, after I lost about 55 pounds as the “Aerobics Queen of 1983-84” (I went from a size 14 to a size 5), she would ask me in public, “Why do you still walk like a ‘fat person’?” If I had two glasses of wine at dinner, “Why are you such a lush?” If someone else was friendlier to me than her, “Why are you such a ‘B-tch?” And there was more, oh so much more every single day. Nothing I could say or do was right or good enough. She thought all Christians were “bible bangers”; she would make plans with me and then right in front of me, tell a mutual friend she was free, and break our plans at the last minute. (I know, I know, I am hearing “doormat” inside my own head because I put up with her for so long).

    After one totally uncalled for chewing out by her (over weekend plans I made for her birthday, at her precise instructions, that were not up to her approval), I finally had to set a boundary with her in the most kind and non-confrontational way I could. I sent her a note that I needed a break, I would get back to her at some later date, and I withdrew for a few months. Personally, I needed protection from her aggressive criticism and cynicism and I could not take one more day.

    After two months I contacted her again to see if we could talk things through and, true to herself, she amped up her meanness and totally raked me over the coals once again… I admit, this “failure of friendship” haunted me for years and years, and I tried over and over to make amends to her, but she was either really mean or totally unresponsive. I was I was so insecure, that I believed her personal, snarky opinion of me: That I was a total mess & screw-up. Instead of going to God, I went to therapy for many years…

    [My so-called “Christian” husband was actually a hidden atheist (I wouldn’t find that out for 30 more years, and after the divorce, and it’s another story), so he wasn’t very supportive unless it furthered his own personal agenda, he also blamed me, and encouraged me that I was crazy and totally the problem and needed outside mental help. He and this woman are still friends, too. But I digress…]

    Fast forward to the “FaceBook Years” 2009 and beyond, we kind of found ourselves both on FB, but not as friends. I messaged to say hello, and she barely acknowledged.

    Then there came a point a few years later, where we shared a mutual friend, and she wanted information from me about that person, so she was very engaged in messaging me and asking me a ton of questions. I answered all of her questions (that I could), as politely as I could, then asked her a single, non-personal question and she never wrote me back.

    Several years later, on September 11, 2016, I heard on the news that her brother (a famous helicopter pilot) was killed in an airplane crash and I messaged to her that I had she and her family in my prayers.

    Finally, when I lost my last kitty (my 29th) last year, he was 19 and the smartest, sweetest kitty I ever loved, I realized that I would have never known him if this woman hadn’t given me my very first kitty in 1984… God put it on my heart to acknowledge this to her, so I also wrote and thanked her for giving my first kitty all those years ago.

    Without knowing, I followed the three steps you recommended: 1. Feel the pain (and I perhaps stayed there a few years too long!). 2. Refuse to seek revenge (I never tried to disparage her to any mutual friends or co-workers). 3. Be kind. I was always kind to her in my writings, this was hard over the years because I secretly, deep down inside believed she was correct about me, that I was all of the hurtful things she called me and I wanted to lash out back at her.

    The end result?

    I can look back and be satisfied that I took the path that God would have wanted for me with how I treated her all along.

    I only wish I had been kinder to myself over those years and not carried the shame and guilt that there was something deeply wrong with me because she felt the need to be so harsh and mean and totally unkind towards me as a person. She was a nasty, mean bully and very narcissistic, but I took it all on me. That was the part I wish I had a “do-over” for and I should have walked away from the “friendship” a lot sooner than I did!

    • Wow, it seems there may be some deep seated issues here in all your lives that have not been resolved. Some people seem to attract others who use them because they are sympathetic and kind. Perhaps this is you. It sometimes takes a long time to know oneself and be able to stand up to others. Glad you were able to find solutions that brought you peace.

  35. Jennifer I cannot imagine anyone being mean to you but then I know that humans in a fallen world are completely capable of this. In my experience I am able to better handle a blatant act of kindness much much better than the ones hidden under the guise of “discernment,” “truth,” or worse yet judgement made and actions carried out with no explanations. But Jesus not only asks me to forgive but to bless those who are against me. So I ask for His grace and do it sometimes daily. My mama used to say ” kill them with kindness” and ” even if you don’t want to be nice.” When I want to dig my heels in and retaliate negatively her words still ring in my ears some 41 years later. And yes I still obey her even though she’s been gone that long. God is mercy and love to me Jesus exemplified that in His human life; so must I. Big hugs my friend and I have your mom and dad in my daily prayers. Please keep us posted if and when you can.

  36. There are times that I get an email, that is not very kind. I am involved in several political women’s groups, and as a leader, I receive emails from others in the group, that points to me, as a leader, and why I am not doing what a leader is suppose to do…..and yes I volunteer my time, effort, money and other things. Many times like you, I want to “fire” right back with something of a “sarcastic” nature.. but then I realize that I would just like them. I have found over the years, that sometimes the best response in “no response”…. to those who feel the need to put themselves up on a pedestal, by making others look bad. God has given us all many talents, and I embrace those talents and work to make the very best of them and do what God has shown me to do.

  37. It is harder to be kind than snarky at first, and I too want to let God do His work in me so my footprint here on Earth doesn’t just blend in with the snarky-ways but leaves a defined and bright imprint. A positive impact! You are a blessing, friend. Glad you prayed before you replied.. prayer is so powerful. Keep on keeping on!!

  38. There is an obvious spirit working, right now, in our country. I have to admit that it is a choice I have had to make for myself—–not feeding into criticism or words of judgement ‘over’ others. The first commandment given to us by our One true Shepherd is to love—–love each other as we love ourselves. I feel like there is a spirit of destruction and negativity and we need to be so aware of every word we speak to one another. The light of our Savior is the only way the darkness can be calmed and, though challenging sometimes, we are called to be light in a dark world. These are trying times but we have a Savior who loves us and we can share that love! Thanks for your courage in sharing!

  39. It is a work of the Holy Spirit to help us to be kind when we have trouble holding that tongue that needs a bridle.

  40. Beautifully written! Loved the part where you prayed, “I wanted the cycle of meanness to end with me.”
    In my prayer time recently, regarding hurt feelings, harsh words, and unkind actions from others & how it makes me feel like I want to strike back (and the Holy Spirit gently nudged that it was for me too) …I have been praying the same thing. That no matter how hurt my feelings are, the Lord can help me rise above those words and move toward actions of hope and healing. To stop the cycle. Especially hard when the meanness comes from family members.
    Another friend used the phrase, “the spirit of offense,” when describing how she finally realized what she was dealing with in one of her relationships. A huge light-bulb moment. So many times when I feel offended by something or what someone has said to me, sometimes its the truth and I don’t want to deal with it in my own self. But most of the time that person is “telling me about them, not about me.”
    When people are living an “offended” life, there is nothing we can do or so to console them or make them see the truth of a situation. It is hard to hand it over to the Holy Spirit to let Him do the work.
    Thank you for sharing your heart and being vulnerable with how you felt. And more importantly, how you allowed the Lord to work through you in the situation.

  41. Jennifer, thank you for sharing this beautiful message of how to show Christ to others in hurtful situations. I praise our Lord for this timely message as I struggle to learn to know what to speak, when to turn away, and not speak after years of having no voice in abusive relationships. The Holy Spirit is our greatest Counselor as He helps us have the right words or the wisdom to walk away and pray. I have to rely on Him so much more as I find myself blurting out a statement of my feelings when hurt by another’s words. I can see the wounded places they come from and apologize (after being apologized to sometimes). How gracious our Lord is as is His people when I fumble to learn to speak again, to love and forgive. May each of us follow our Lord’s Spirit, learning His wisdom that grows the fruits of love and kindness in the face of offense, self-focus, and meanness that we may remain soft and open-hearted in His love.

  42. Been in those shoes. What helps me keep my heart right; what holds my tongue: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood…but against rulers of darkness” If I can remember, and if I will take the time to pray for the person, not the enemy behind them, I find peace, rest, forgiveness

  43. Yes, we have a choice when people confront us with meanness. One thing I am trying not to do lately is take the meanness personally. Often the person hurling stones is really in pain and reacting by hurting someone else. I have found that often the meanness has little to do with me, that sometimes I am just the person who is in the wrong place at the right time. Not taking the meanness personally is hard to do, because words really do hurt as much as sticks and stones, but prayer and compassion also help. Great post and reminder.

    • It’s funny when I read this post because God knew I needed to hear it. You see, I too am a victim of a mean email, but for me it was from a co-worker who likes to point fingers before getting the whole story. I also wanted to respond with a nasty email, but decided to choose kindness. I can’t say that I am not stewing and obsessing over this person’s unkindness, but I know that God is bigger than this, and that someday none of this will matter. I am reminded to keep heaven in view. I will pray for this person, while probably gritting my teeth, but I know how I respond will make the difference between turning others towards God, or away from Him. Thank you again for making me realize how important it is to choose kindness!

      • Thank you for this reply. I needed to read those words in your post along with that message. I have a coworker who is constantly making gabs or comments to make herself look or feel better, I’m not sure which. But your statement, “keep heaven in view…” is exactly what our Heavenly Father wants from us! Thank you again. I needed to see you post and I’m glad I took the time to read it! Have a great day!!

  44. After just reading a particularly mean email sent to me, I was so upset to the point of tears. I truly try to live by the saying “In a world where you can be anything ,be kind”so I was very sad that someone can be so mean. I knew I couldn’t sleep at the moment so decided to look at my emails and here you are with a story that made me feel so not all alone, that inspired and made me realize that I can still be kind but not walked on all the time. Thank you for helping me , the story you shared and the advice you provided, has meant more than you will ever realize.

  45. Love this reminder to meet harshness with gentle, loving kindness. Some days, esp. in the world filled with such snarky attitudes, it’s easy to get caught up in the movement to tear down. Sorry someone wrote such mean things about you. They never met my grandma, who always taught us growing up, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!” 😉 (P.S> The Happiness Dare is on my to-read list this month!)

  46. Our thoughts and attitudes are contagious, including yours. Thank you for putting words to this and giving us all a game plan for the next time we bump into someone wearing their 3:30 am brave. We all get to step a little kinder because you went first. <3

  47. This is a good post. I do think that, often, hurt people hurt people. It really is so important to “go high,” as the Obamas would say, and there is no good excuse for anyone to be mean, ever.

    I will say, however, that a great source of frustration in my life (going all the way back to childhood) is having my feelings (and thoughts, but especially feelings) dismissed or disregarded. I can be a bit passionate in my response to certain things, and as I have aged, learned, and experienced counseling, I have realize that this might stem, in part, from anticipating that what I say will be dismissed or disregarded; life has taught me of this strong! possibility.

    Sadly, I can look back over my life and see many instances in which I shot myself in the foot, by which I mean that the person with whom I was trying to communicate was more focused on getting me to calm down (or hush) than on any legitimate concern or message I had. I can think of an instance involving The High Calling that, in my opinion, very much went down that way. I still hold the same concern. I still have the same message. Nothing was resolved to my satisfaction. But maybe it could or would have been if I’d handled myself differently.

    I know nothing about your meanie, who might have no purpose other than to hurt and/or discourage you. But I hope that you have not only felt the pain, refused to seek revenge, and been kind (all of these being so important and admirable!), but also to look for any legitimacy in the person’s message. Did (s)he have any fair reason to be upset, whatsoever? Again, there’s no good excuse to be mean, but I think, sometimes, a person’s meanness can be a convenient excuse to avoid the reason for his or her outburst.

    • I agree, totally, that hurt people hurt people. Out of my own hurt, I have hurt people — unfortunately, some of them live in my same house.

      I hope that it’s clear that the situation here is anecdotal. I’m not ruminating over this still, only using it as an anecdote from my own life, to help steer people toward what it might look like to choose kindness – even when it’s hard. (If I had to say what bothered me most about the emails from this person, is that they felt like cheap shots, especially with personal insults about my and my family. And it was the second such email. But again. The anecdote itself isn’t as important, in this particular illustration, as the point I had hoped to make. I do hope that came through.)

      As for The High Calling, I’m sorry that never felt resolved for you, Brandee. Perhaps we need to have a separate discussion about that. I’d hate for you to feel burdened by that, still. I feel badly about that. You are welcome to email me — and I think it’s safe to say, you could also email Deidra — about that at any time. I’d need to be refreshed on the particulars, but I remember it generally.

      I appreciate you, Brandee.

      • Oh, I would say the same. I was using a shared story to make my point, which is that sometimes the meanie has a point and that I think it’s important to try to look past the meanness for any fair or legitimate concern. I appreciate you, too! 🙂

      • I don’t agree that kindness has to be deserved. That is arrogant. Kindness should be part of your personality if you are truly a kind person. I also believe some people sound mean often because they are abused in some way. I experienced much abuse in my life from several situations that were unthinkable, particularly in a long term marriage. I have experienced discrimination many times as well. I don’t see myself as mean, but sometimes defensive. When one is abused and cannot get the proper assistance, or understanding, there is no right or wrong when one needs to express their pain, sometimes as a cry for help to make sense out of things. I am not condoning harming others, but some get to the point where they feel they must speak out to those who negate or mock them, or worse, others who have a wishy washy life is beautiful attitude because life may be good for them, and they don’t want to deal with the negative reality that life is cruel for many. When someone is mean to me, the first thing I often ask is if it is I who angered them. It is good to get answers from people who are hurting rather than adapt the ongoing attitude most have today that we should tune out anyone who isn’t sparkling or smiling ear to ear.

  48. Appreciated the insight: “Mean is easy.” You’re so right, Jennifer. Kindness, on the other hand, can be very difficult when it is not deserved. I do want to take the challenge, however, and make the brave choice. (Help me, Lord, to be prepared and extend kindness to all!)

  49. I failed miserably at this today. After being put on-hold for ages and still not getting an answer to a question, I told the person to forget it and hung up. I was thinking more about the money the call was costing than the person on the other end. I don’t think I’d like to work in a call-centre and deal with customers’ frustration.

  50. Thank you, Jennifer, for this important post. Wow, did it bring back a not-too-distant memory of a neighbor who hurt me and several others with his unrelenting verbal and written attacks. You hit the nail on the head when you said that meanness and narcissism go hand-in-hand. Many other neighbors were in agreement that this man was a “certified case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder” and that sadly, because of it, his MO with most everyone is meanness. Your 3 steps to dealing with such people are right on as well – I certainly did feel the pain! Even with others saying not to take it personally, we’re human and you know that words can wound our heart as deeply a punch in the gut. I did choose not to seek revenge, but ultimately felt forced to step away from involvement in the HOA that would bring me in contact with him in any way. As for your third step, I resolved that if I did see him I would “kill him with kindness”! 🙂 Please continue your beautiful, Spirit-filled posts. Moving onward and upward is truly the only way to win against bullies. God bless you!

    • I don’t think a bunch of neighbors are qualified or have the right to diagnose another neighbor as narcissistic personality disorder. It is bad enough bad counselors do this to people and ruin their lives with what might be a temporary thing for a person. It sounds mean, ironically. Why don’t you all invite this man to lunch or be a little kinder and ask him why he sounds so stressed and angry and do something people hardly do today and listen. You might work a small miracle with a new method of kindness. People aren’t usually intentionally mean. Often they are hurting or abused. Maybe he feels bullied by you?

  51. Choosing to be kind in the face of such meanness is the only way to go. Yes, it does take a greater effort, but it’s what Jesus would have us do – turn the other cheek.
    Blessings, Jennifer!

  52. I Love that your first response was to feel the pain. So often we forget that step . .to acknowledge the hurt. I think we should also stop to see their pain. I have found most mean people are hurting people. When I try to see them, I am often more willing to be kind. Thank you for sharing.

  53. What a great post. Be kind! Kindness goes so far. We can sometimes make things so complicated, but this is simple to remember. I am so sorry for the ugly comments you received. However what great evidence that God uses everything. I needed that post today. I need to expend a little bit of kindness with a friend that I am super upset with. Thank you for the reminder.

  54. Thanks for this Jennifer. Modeling this to our kids is so important because teenagers can just be plain mean! Rolling eyes, exhaling loudly to show their disgust at their aged and uncool parents, knowing everything before you’ve told them anything – it begins to wear on a mum’s nerves (or is that just me!?) Being kind, but not a doormat, is SO import when every fiber of my being wants to be a teenager back to her!

  55. What about when the person trying to bring you down is your abuser, your abuser’s family/friends?

    What I am trying to (slowly) learn is that following Jesus includes allowing his message of grace to flow into even the extreme places of brokenness. If the Christian message of hope is big enough, powerful enough to reach even survivors of the most horrific abuses and traumas, it also can be applied to the ones who perpetrate these terrors. Jesus doesn’t make exceptions based on how terrible a circumstance is (if it’s rated higher than an 8, you are off the hook to forgive — or, you can’t be healed from THAT).

    Of course, it’s quite important to consider what kindness towards an abuser might look like practically. It might look like never speaking to him/her again, but also not telling the abuser that he/she is an animal who is beyond all hope of redemption.

    Thank you, Jennifer, for your thoughts! Thank you for not worrying about being original. Encouragement to be kind is never un-needed. I just joined the blogging world by starting a blog about trauma recovery and spirituality! Feel free to take a peek: http://www.thawingout.org