A friend posted Taylor Swift’s new music video “Mean” on Facebook. Taylor chronicles the painful path of three kids who are working through the geeky phase of life while setting their sights on a bright future. Before the frogs become royalty, however, they must endure the taunts and cruel jokes from “mean” kids. The ending is totally predictable, but it’s still a joy to watch! It’s very well done.
One question has plagued my thoughts since watching the video… Throughout her ballad she asks, “Why are you so mean?” Taylor touches on an answer but it’s so brief I missed it the first time through. I love the fact that the song cheers on the underdog, but my heart also breaks for the mean kids. Why are mean kids mean?
There was a mean girl in my life. She tormented me in grade school. I still remember her biting critiques of my clothes, my hair and personality. We performed a musical number in 5th grade. I poured my heart into it. Afterward she told me I ruined the whole performance and was a total embarrassment. She was beautiful, popular, impeccably dressed and “cool”… everything I was not. There were many tearful conversations with my parents during those years. I asked the same question Taylor Swift asks in her song, “Why was she so mean?”
Mom and Dad didn’t have an answer. On the outside everything about “mean girl’s” life seemed perfect. My parents loved me and encouraged me. They told me “mean girl” did not define who I was, and then they did something that has had a profound affect on who I’ve become; they planted a seed of compassion for “mean girl”. We couldn’t see the source of pain or anger, but her cruel words were signs of a broken spirit desperately trying to feel important and valued. Mean kids are usually mean because they’re hurt or angry. It’s not an excuse for their behavior, but it is a window into their soul.
I’ve tried to pass that seed to my children. My husband reminds us often that Jesus died for everyone, not just the people we like or get along with… He even died for the mean kids! We want our kids to draw on His strength to stand up against abuse, His wisdom to know when to walk away and His love (even for our enemies) that defies human understanding. Sometimes God even uses us to love the mean kids into His heart and hands. Now that’s something to sing about!