Friday, February 18, 2011

The Sticky, Mucky Mud of Gossip

"In case you haven't heard..."

"You should pray for ______ , because...."

"I spoke to _______, yesterday. Can you believe...."

Oh Gossip. We are a society that lives to talk about what others are doing. In the dirty details of others lives we wallow like pigs. Have you ever stepped in mud? I mean really stepped in...your shoe is so deep that when you finally pull it out you hear that sucking sound? That's gossip. That sticky, mucky stuff that is hard to get off, hard to get out of and makes a noise like no other.

My phone rang this morning. It was the gossip train come to call. Yikes. Three sentences into the conversation I realized where it was going and I needed to shut it down. I finally managed to say, I'm not sure we need to talk about the details of ____'s life. If she wanted me to know I'd be happy to speak with her. (I could hear the sucking sound as I tried to extricate myself from the mud.)

The line went dead. Offensive I was, I suppose. But sometimes the truth is offensive. And this morning I chose something other than mud. I don't always make the right choice, it isn't always easy, but I'm trying.

When the world says, "Don't tell her I told you, but.."

The Bible answers: A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. Proverbs 11:13

When from the mud you hear, "You have got to hear...."

God assures us that: A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends. Proverbs 16:28

When the phone rings and you hear, "I've got so much to tell you. You'll never guess what I heard from..."

We are reminded in Proverbs 20:19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.

I was struck as I read the Bible passages on gossip. Betrays and separates was used over and over again. The damage done in a moment of weakness, in a moment of wanting the power of information in our hands, is real and lasts far beyond the echo of our own voices. In those moments we inflict wounds on people, on reputations, on friendships. We start fires that can spread faster than any wildfire and can consume relationships, small groups, churches and more.

How do you avoid it? Prayer, of course. And a conscious effort to constantly stay out of the mud. If we hold each other accountable for where we steer the conversations, perhaps we'll keep each other from wallowing.

I want to be a woman whose reputation is one that I won't gossip. The confidences, secrets, and friends are safe in my hands.

Father, how I hate the thought of hurting others, of hurting You. How easily I get sucked into feeling like I'm in the know. Help me see my conversations and my intentions for what they are Father. Let my life shine with the white linens of righteousness, not be speckled with brown and mud that can't be washed away. Amen.


Will Blackwell said...

Once they get started, ask the gossiper, "Can you keep a secret?" After they promise they can, simply say, "So can I."

Leebird said...

Hey girl...I guess I won't tell you about how so-and-so was seen with who-dad and how her-diddy threw a fit. :) Way to speak truth sister! Love you!

Eileen said...

Great post. I don't think I really knew how tempting it was until I started working in an office about 1 1/2 years ago that was filled with women. Women can be so gossipy! I constantly find myself having to walk away from conversations. It's hard because much of the world doesn't see the harm in it. Thank you so much for this reminder.