clique |klik| a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them.
click |klik| become suddenly clear or understandable
The summer I was twelve, my parents, two brothers and I moved to Arlington, Texas, for my dad to open a new Holiday Inn one minute from Six Flags over Texas. After a summer of family friends visiting us, I met the new school year knowing no one. Entering seventh-grade, I remember the kids being friendly, and some teased me goodheartedly because I was from Razorback country. (Side note: Texas had just slaughtered us in football the year before.)
During that first semester, I visited my friends back in Arkansas one weekend. That particular Saturday night at a large youth group church function filled with junior high kids, I was singled out as the girl from Texas. It just so happened the Arkansas-Texas football game was on the radio in the background. Guess who was now living in the losing state? Guess who was the target of all the “we got you back!” comments? Yet, I knew it was in good fun and just laughed.
After Thanksgiving that same year, a new reality evolved. Without much notice, my mother packed up my two brothers and me, and we moved back to our hometown minus one dad. That first day back at school I met together with my group of old friends. Some new girls had been added since our junior high combined several elementary schools.
I’ll never forget that first day, standing in this circle of girls who were kindly welcoming me back.
I’ll never forget that day, Josie* (*names changed), one of newest girls forming this new clique, asked coldly and bluntly, “So why didn’t your dad move back with you?” She narrowed her eyes and almost seemed pleased by my shocked reaction. I was speechless, trying to process why she was so mean.
One of the other girls whispered in her ear, and she nodded and said, “I know.”
I soon learned how hateful Josie could be. Worse, I proved to be an easy target for her to reckon with. For her it might have been in good fun. For me, not at all. I quietened each time she hurled her barbs, wounded, and I hurt more than I should have.
We’ve all been exposed to them, involved in them, snubbed by them.
When shared interests draw us together, why shouldn’t those who like the same things join forces? Those are bonds for rich friendships.
The problem I had with my newly formed clique in junior high was that with all the new ones added our like interest was “being popular.” It wasn’t from a branch of academics or a particular artistic talent. It wasn’t from a common faith or sport or activity.
In hindsight, it’s fabric was flimsy, and too often the gossip woven throughout the cloth was all that bound us together. So I wonder about those who I might have hurt in this clique’s focus or lack thereof.
Yet, sometime during those aimless weavings, I was coerced to change by a quote I read in a book entitled Words to Live by.
“Great minds discuss ideas;
Average minds discuss activities;
Small minds discuss people.”
I pondered those words, “small minds, huh?” and questioned the worth of gossip and the flimsy threads it offered.
Several years passed, and after I committed my life to Christ, I learned through my Bible studies that gossip was a sin. A sin. Like murder. Scripture upon scripture clearly defined it as wrong for all minds–great and small.
Yet even in my circle of friends at church and Bible study, gossip sometimes stitched its way in. For some, it banded them tightly.
And my heart hurt through it all. For it was in my desire not to be a part of any of it, I tended to isolate myself in hopes of ensuring I didn’t gossip.
Not that I didn’t trust others so much.
I suppose I didn’t trust me,
and how I might prefer to be liked by others to the point of delving into gossip’s web just to be included. (Isn’t it better to be the one weaving than the one caught within its grasp?)
And even with all those years of trying not to gossip, I’ve noticed its alluring attachments. One night after the six o’clock news when Entertainment Tonight came on, I heard in the opening few seconds the newest celebrity gossip. I actually paused to hear the latest on someone I didn’t even know. Just a tidbit of juicy gossip considered “News.”
Nonetheless, there are times we need to know some things that can border as gossip. We call them concerns or actualities.
So is the difference in the motives of the heart–of the one telling and the one receiving that bit of news? I think so by what I read in scriptures.
Many times, I’ve stumbled into conversations and walked away wishing I had been more aware of others’ circumstances. Maybe I really could have helped them in some way.
For example, years ago I had a former student, Ted*, ask if he could come in after school and build a ceramic pot. His high school schedule didn’t allow him to take art, so I stayed later and worked in my room while he created. One day he blew up and his tone of voice was disrespectful. I told him he couldn’t come back with that attitude, and he didn’t. I learned later his mother was dying of cancer. That would have helped in my dealings with Ted. I still would have asked for a respectful attitude, but I would have been more lenient given his painful circumstances.
And just as some cliques are termed as gangs because of their destructive criminal behavior, some behaviors in cliques can be almost as destructive as those in gangs if it kills off a part of who we are.
Recently I had a dream. I was visiting with Allen*, a young fellow I actually know. In the dream he was different. He was who he might have become had he not been overhauled by insecurities from his past. Some were from his home life, but most were from social contacts at school and church, or his lack thereof. In real life, he’s brooding, making me wonder if he’s possibly brewing over lifelong hurts, even without realizing it. In my dream, he was freed from the rejections he’d encountered over those years. He was who he should have been, who he could have been.
Wouldn’t it be nice if all of us–children, teenagers and adults–lived freed from those constraints?
Sometimes I’ve thought about that day in junior high when I was singled out in being the only one in my clique in a dad-less home. It was usually when I was teaching, and I watched similar scenarios played out before me by my students.
I’ve come to understand why I was such a target for Josie and others. After visiting with my older brother Clay and my family friend Pam, I was described as “the most non-assertive child I’ve ever known.”
I’ve identified and reconciled the reasons I became that way from my early years. I’ve also realized that my becoming “ too sweet for my own good” has eventually evolved into a great life, a blessed life. I know that.
A couple of years ago I was visiting with a former classmate, Bob*. He mentioned Josie.
“So how is Josie?” I asked.
“Doing great professionally,” Bob said. His voice took on a bitter tone when he added she was mean as ever, had hurt people close to him, and her personal life was continuously in shambles. Without mentioning my hurtful events, I assumed Bob and possibly many others had painful dealings with Josie. I was saddened for her, but most especially for the many victims in her path she had wounded.
As the new school year begins, I envision hordes of children and teenagers longing to be liked by others, longing to feel a part of something. I also see adults, showing up for work, a meeting or some social function with the same anticipation.
It’s a part of who we are.
That’s why we need to intentionally break out of our comfort zone to speak to someone at work/school, church or other events, to recognize their value as a person.
Because in the long run, it ends up being our blessing. We discover others whose personality, interests, wit and wisdom broaden our lives, expanding who we are. We don’t want to miss that, do we?
Also, think about how you have been changed by others’ behavior and words from the past. Have those memories grown too deeply? Have you given them more power in your life than they deserve? In hindsight can you now shake off those spiteful words and actions, untrue to who you really are?
May it become clear to you it’s possible to be freed and be who God created you to be.
“When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
This Inspirational Thought delves into gossip’s tap root. The Heavy Hurts page shares steps to an overcoming life from II Chronicles 20. A few vacation landscape photos are shared on the art page. Blessings for your new week, expanding who you are.
If you have an unpublished children’s middle-grade fiction, check out: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/11th-free-dear-lucky-agent-contest-middle-grade-fiction?et_mid=575716&rid=2917972