Mean People

"Mom!! Come watch this!" my seven year old son called as I walked in the house from running an errand. "It's the Discovery Channel and they are talking about Kenya!" he exclaimed.

I sat down beside him, captivated as the words Masai Mara flashed on the screen. I nodded "Yes, this is the exact place we went for our debriefing."

We watched in awe as a pride of ferocious lions singled out a lone buffalo.

They attacked it. An amateur photographer captured the gruesome scene. As the attack ensued, the frightened, injured buffalo bellowed. The sound was unusual; it was a cry for help.

The lions were fierce and knocked the huge buffalo down, a sure sign the end would be near.

But then, there was a cloud of smoke as a large herd of buffalo arrived on the scene. They heard the cry for help, huddled to form a defensive group and charged the pride of lions.

[Pause here: I learned in Africa and just from being so smart, you don't mess with lions. They are king and the most feared predator of all. So, I'm thinking...what the heck are y'all doing? Crazy buffaloes.]

The herd of angry buffalo charged as one. The lions were so intimidated by the sheer mass and power of the group--they scattered and ran!! Immediately, the buffalo herd surrounded the injured one and began to lick his wounds.

But it didn't move. They continued to smell and nudge, lick and encourage the wounded in a defensive position.

A cheer rose up in my house when the wounded, battered buffalo moved and then STOOD UP. It limped off with the rest of herd. The camera kept rolling and caught the lion pride return, sniff the ground and leave defeated.

It's too bad that people aren't more like buffalo (a sentence I never thought I'd write).

We see others struggle, separated from the crowd and weak from their isolation. A mistake, for sure. They are attacked by the fierce predator who seeks their very soul. They cry out for help.

But unlike the buffalo, we don't always run to their defense, charge the enemy, circle around and defend. Mend the wounds, help the fallen stand again. Restore the fallen. Be Christ.

Often, we're more like lions. We turn predator when we see the weak. We attack each other, judge harshly, let jealousy reign. We turn on our own. We become mean people.

Sadly, I've seen this scenario in the Christian world far more often that I'd like to admit. I've seen it in the church, the ministry, in the blog world, even while I was in Kenya with Compassion International.

And people aren't just mean to the weak and those that have fallen, often times they are mean to people they don't agree with. I can handle honest, respectful differences in opinion. It's the ugliness that offends.

Why do we (women especially) attack our own? I'm not saying anything new here. Girls are mean to other girls. I've warned my own daughter of this fact. Perhaps it's because girls watch their mothers?

Even more disheartening are Christians who are mean.

I'm reminded of my devotion yesterday in Luke reading about the Sadducees attacking Jesus for healing a crippled woman on the Sabbath. He's like "Would you rather her suffer than follow your dumb rules?" When we demand perfection from people, we become legalistic. God uses imperfect people who mess up!

Maybe mean people feel justified. Perhaps they feel like they are sounding an alarm or actually helping. Or perhaps they are like the lions, just going in for the kill?

I don't know if this post is about the mean people (lions) who attack or the united group that defends the wounded (buffalo).

I just know which group I want to be a part of. How about you?

*photos by Keely Marie Scott from our time in Africa


Lynn said...

"It's too bad that people aren't more like buffalo (a sentence I never thought I'd write)."

Bah ha ha!!!! Love this!

Great post! Is this one going to be in your devotional? ;o)

Tasha said...

Wow. Thank you. I couldn't agree more. Lately I have actually been thinking about things like this. From books I have read, a movie I recently saw...none of it necessarily had to completely do with this, but it has been what has stuck in my mind. It is interesting how we can stand back and hurt or let others get hurt. Instead of loving. I think too often we forget that whoever is out there is also another person. Someone else with feelings and no matter what they have done or what has hurt us we need to remember the greater law and love back. We don't have to always agree. But, we don't have to be mean either.

I have to say I really love the idea of this pack rallying around each other. Hmm. How often do we really do this? That really is a good question you are posing. Thank you.

We 2 Bees said...

Awesome post! Thank you! I've been thinking a lot about mean people and how I don't want to be one of them. I love the visual of the lions and the buffaloes. I want to be the buffalo, we should stand strong again the enemy! Christ like, helping the broken!

Lara said...

Some of the times burned into my memory are times I have been mean to someone. It may have been years ago, but when I recall these instances I feel ashamed. There's nothing more contradictory than a mean Christian.

Tim said...

Great post Kristen. I know which one I want to be. Ironically my high school mascot was a Bison. So I was kind of one even before this post. Unfortunately I haven't always acted like one.

Lord help me to be like the buffalo and be a defender of those who are weak and wounded. Amen

Cris Goode said...

What a great post! Thanks. I couldn't agree more with your observations.

pippasmum said...

I absolutely love the mental picture you create here of the group surrounding the wounded and giving care. What a wonderful image of what we need to be as Christians. Thank you so much for the reminder.

Stonefox said...

I'm with you, Kristen. I want to be one who binds up the broken hearted.

You are so right about girls watching their mothers. Sadly, the meanest treatment I have received is from my own mom. I have been rejected by her all my life and scathingly condemned at a time when I desperately needed lifting up. I can't tell you how hurtful that was, and still I feel the sharp pain of it.

If anything, I have realized how much I want to NOT be that kind of person. I love your example and your your humble heart. You are able to say things in purity of heart (I don't think I can). Thank you, friend, for your example.

A. Smith said...

Oh this is a great post. I'm on team buffalo - always have been and I always will ;)

Amanda said...

Most definitely true. Yet it seems no matter how many times someone writes about it, it still continues to happen. A mean commenter forced me to not allow any anonymous comments anymore. The saddest part is that we don't ever really forget all the mean things that happen to us, yet we forget so quickly all the good.

Kristin said...

Count me in as a wanna-be buffalo. Amen and amen to your post this morning!

Mel said...

Speachless~ What an inspirational post...

Dear God, Help me; to become part of the Buffalo team. Amen

I consider myself a Christian "in training" as I recognize, I myself, as judgemental, and not always helpful... I pray for these weaknesses to be handed over to Christ, I believe, in his healing power.

Thanks for sharing this very powerful image.

Blessings to all,

Anonymous said...

Oh, goodness, I catch myself being judgemental ALL THE TIME. Among women especially, there is such conflict- bottle vs. breast, home vs. work, public vs. private vs homeschool. Goodness, we are just too tough on each other. Because we are insecure.

Be the buffalo.

Kimberly said...

You continue to inspire me each day! What an amazing message. I don't know that I would have parralled lions and buffalo with people after seeing the show....but, you - in your amazing way - have presented a true message!

We are raising two girls...and a boy. I am just embarking on working with other moms at the school, and I dread it! Ugghh... My daughter is in first grade and I don't even want to be in the PTO because I don't want to deal with all the silliness that goes on with all the moms! Ugghh....girls.....


Thanks for it! My day is off to a great start, because of you!

Bonnie said...

"When we demand perfection from people, we become legalistic. God uses imperfect people who mess up!"

Love it. Glad I came over for a visit and read this post.

Thank you.

*Given Much Momma* said...

I wanna be a buffalo!! (only thinner) ;)

Thank you for this beautiful post.

Bevy said...

What a great post... I love "real-life" analogies.

Thank you!

You know, recently I've been the one wounded. It's's only heresay and indirect. But it still hurts.

It hurts worse, because you don't expect it to be the Buffulo (like minded people/family/Christians) who are the mean ones.

It's definately drawn me closer to my Savior - my Rescuer, my spite of it all. But oh the temptataion to "fight back", you know??

Dee said...

As one recovering from ministerial burnout I can relate all strongly to this post. it still hurts too much. i still can't go to church. i still cry from the pain. i am still alone.

Jamie said...

Fantastic post. Gonna have to share this one. :)

Steph B. said...

Thank you for writing this. What a great insight!

Blair said...

I've been a lion before & all it produces is an arrogant jackass.

So I'm turning Team Buff & I LOVE IT.

Elaina M. Avalos said...

Great post! I want to be one of the buffalo herd. What an awesome way to demonstrate this.

Gretchen Magruder said...

Beautifully said....we were just talking to our kids about this before school. Well, not buffalo....but walking beside the wounded.

My 10 year old told the story of the kid in her class who is kind of an outcast...he talks to himself and doesn't like to follow rules...they were running the mile in gym class yesterday and he decided he would walk the whole thing. So the entire class is done running and he still has 2 more laps to of the popular, atheletic, pretty girls stood up, ran out to him on the track, and told him she'd run with him the rest of the way. My daughter said the class cheered them the final laps.

I wish every middle school story ended that way.

Kristin said...

Reading this wonderful post and all the comments that followed, it struck me how we have all been mean, all been hurt and all felt alone. These are universal feelings, but ones that we can work on and hopefully, through our Christian example, show others that meanness is not necessary. I believe the change begins with allowing Christ to completely guide our lives. I pray for the humility everyday to allow myself to submit continually! Allowing the Lord to be in control is tough, but isn't a mean heart much worse!? Thanks Kristen once again for your inspiration.

Paula from Amen Corners said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paula from Amen Corners said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crystal said...

Beautiful message!

Paula from Amen Corners said...

Sorry, had to delete comment twice, once for typo, once for misquote! Not doing too well this a.m.
You wrote a wonderfully inspiring post, thank you.
This quote is for everyone but especially for your reader Dee.
"I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars"
Og Mandino

Christy said...

Beautiful post, I so want to always be on Team Buffalo! I am sharing this with my children.

Sherri said...

I am usually a lurker here and on several blogs. I very rarely comment because I just don't feel the need. But watching everything unfold here and several other compassion bloggers/sponsers I realize just how true it is.

This post is amazing! You did a wonderful job. As Christians I feel sometimes "some" feel they are a bit higher on that pedestal that makes them a bit "bigger" than they are. Hense the lion-ess effect. Females can be very cruel. Sad but true. I feel it is MY responsbility to help my daughter understand that is NOT acceptable behavior. I feel our children need a daily reminder as to what Christ like bahavior is.

This post also reminded me of how many people I run into on the street who have mad road rage going on in their vehicle! I mean you can literally see it on their face....sad.

Judgement day is coming. And we don't know when our time is up....SO....I can't help but think it would be very ironic if our last day is one where we have "knocked" someone down. Its my daily goal to NOT do that and to NOT allow any negative behavior so my children will model.

Ok going back into lurking phase again :) Thanks Kristen!

Frosted Fingers said...

Great post today!

Tiffany said...

Great story! I came from a link and I leave with wisdom to share.

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

OH, this is fabulous. It is so true and so sad. We, as Christians, are called to imitate Christ. We should be lifting one another up instead of pushing them down. Restore the fallen indeed. The really sad truth is that alot of the time this is happening within our churches. As a pastor's wife, I see it alot and I have a hard time believing it happens.

Thanks for this great message and great reminder today. We need to live like Him and for Him.

Veronica Boulden said...

Awesome post. Inspirational and funny. I laughed out loud at the "people should be more like buffalo" thing. Whew hew! ..From one writer-mom to another, I love seeing you do this thing you do and succeed. I saw the post about your book deal and my mouth just watered. But, I am telling myself to "Settle down, girl... Settle down." God is Sovereign and I've given my dreams to Him, so I'm good... I love reading your blog. Thanks for sharing. :)

Keli said...

wow. what a moving post! said...

And among the phrases I'd never thought I'd utter, I want to be a buffalo! It amazes me how mean moms are to other moms. They attack each other over working outside the home, and Santa Clause. Sheesh, motherhood is hard enough. Can't we just support each other a little more? Work towards understanding or agreeing to disagree? Sadly, the answer I come up with most often is, apparently not.

Anonymous said...

How true are your words. Sound the alarm. They enemy of our souls so should not be able to use us in his attack. The devil is a liar, why do women have to be?

We are to be His voice of truth, love, compassion, and friendship.

Where are we when we are needed the most? Sure hope I am where He is, because He is there!

Thank you,

Laurie said...

Wonderful post. I left the church long ago because of mean Christian women. Sadly, I let the bitterness I felt towards them turn my heart against Him for years. Thankfully, with God's healing grace I have forgiven all and have been forgiven of all.

Victoria@WhimsybyVictoria said...

This was a great post! We should be lifting one another up not tearing each other down. I try even when I feel the green monster coming on to find something nice to say instead of letting it get to me. The only way to be more Christ like is to live it. Thank you for sharing this!


Nicole @Team Pipkin said...

I don't know why women are mean to other women.
Sadly my mother saw this in her church which has totally changed her that she no longer goes to church. The trust is lost.
I recently came upon a blog being very mean to another blogger. I was SHOCKED. Seriously you not have anything better to do then say mean things about a person. Like Thumper's mom said to him in the movie Bambi, "If you can't say anything nice then don't say anything at all".
Since coming back to the Lord last May, I have surrounded myself with good "sisters in Christ". I've never heard them say a mean thing about anyone within the church or out of the church. I know these women have my back. I can trust them.
Great post Kristen!

Beki - TheRustedChain said...

Lord, help me to be more buffalo-like.

Love this!

p.s. You rock.

Sheri said...

I could seriously hug you right now. Thank you for writing such an honest post. I thought once I survived junior high the "lions" (mean people) would grow up and move on. Thats not always the case though.

I will admit that I try very hard to live my life as a buffalo :) Being kind is easy, not judging is sometimes not easy. But I try, and thats all we can do.

Excellent post!

Dayngr | Dayngrous Discourse said...

I had surfed over for the party but you shut down the comments. Bummer. =(

heidig said...

Well said!

Jar Full of Rocks said...

I got to read this yesterday but didn't have time to comment. I SOO needed it at the time. I was having a really REALLY rough day.

Tammy said...

SO much truth here! We are already having "mean" issues with my 8 yr old daughter. I am trying to teach her to respond in an appropriate manner without making the situation worse. It is VERY hard!

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

LOVE this post. So so true.

I think we do more damage to the church when we gossip about a neighbor at bunko than any political movement can do.

We need to be Buffalo Soldiers. (get it?) (is that song stuck in your head yet?) (let me help - Buffalo Sol-ja! In the heart of A mer ri ca! Aye yi yi! Aye yi yi yi!)

Beth said...

Wow...your post couldn't be more timely! My 13-yr. old is experiencing some of the mean girl stuff you spoke about. It is hard to watch her get her feelings hurt and get left out. They are nice to her face, but don't include her in things and talk about it in front of her. I keep telling her she knows who her true friends are and that she shouldn't let it bother her. However, I feel like a hypocrite telling her not to let it bother her because it bothers ME! I don't want her to try to fit into their mold. I want her to be comfortable with who she is and to surround herself with friends who like her as is. She is worth so much more than these mean girls give her credit for. I tell her to be nice to them, but that she doesn't have to be FRIENDS with them. Oh...the teenage years and girls! I'm hoping boys are much easier! Unfortunately, I only have one of them and 3 girls! Hopefully I will learn enough from my oldest's experiences that the 2nd & 3rd daughters will have a bit smoother of a ride!

Thanks for this and giving me a fresh perspective on what is REALLY important! ;)

touchdowntn16 said...

BRAVO!! I Love it!!!!!!!

bridget {bake at 350} said...

My husband & I have had this conversation many times about how women tear each other apart...and men just "get over it." When they disagree or do things differently, they don't lash out. I wonder why that is? If someone is doing something differently, that must mean WE are wrong and need to attack? Very curious.

I must say...twitter has been the most supportive, rally-around-the-one-who-needs-it girl's group I've ever been a part of. (I know there are men on twitter, too...but you know what I mean.) Great Buffalo there! ;)