Thursday, July 22, 2010

Gossip Girl

‎"Be kinder than necessary - everyone you meet is facing some kind of battle...." TH Thompson

I have heard this quote, or a variation "Treat people gently, you have no idea the load they are bearing" a handful of times in my adult life. In recent months, however, God has revealed the truth of this sentiment to me through amazing, unexpected encounters.

Since letting go of some of my volunteer work that involved hours of weekly meetings and spending more time investing in relationships with people, I have been pounded by this truth. I confess that on more than one occasion I have been humbled to realize that the way I had 'pegged' someone was totally off base. I confess that I have drawn conclusions about people based on the image they chose to portray--and once I have had the time and the opportunity to really get to know them I have found treasure I almost missed. 

Tuesday morning in my small group we were talking about gossip. Specifically, we were discussing the harm of 'just listening' to gossip versus passing it on. We agreed that even the listening was harmful because of the taint it gave to your opinion of someone.

I was reminded of an experience I had a few years ago. Friends of ours had moved into town to be involved in ministry. One night over dinner as we were welcoming them I decided I should 'warn' them about someone. (I know, I know...Go easy on me. I am confessing here.) As I started to give them a little salacious background (that seemed defensible and appropriate at the time) they stopped me. 
"You know," they grinned, "It sounds like a great story, but we want to get to know people for ourselves--no baggage."

Talk about some humble pie! I was convicted and a little embarassed, but also inspired. What courage to stop me mid sentence! (and somehow it was not offensive the way they pulled it off.)

I don't think we will understand what it is about our human (sin) nature that makes 'pegging someone' or knowing their dirt so tempting. We can rationalize it a hundred different ways. "This isn't gossip, because I know it is true..." or my favorite, "You know they are going through a hard time..."

And, yet, we must respect when a story is OURS to tell and when it isn't. 

I think I have made it clear that I like order, compartments, reason...I like people to be characters that I can generalize and plug into a story... the hero/heroine, the victim, the adversary, the comic relief.

But life is not that simple. We are all in each of those roles depending on the scene--and truly, from the perspective of eternity, we are all equally the wretched, disobedient, rebellious sinner in need of saving grace.

Lord, give me eyes to see people the way you do... with delight and love. The most annoying, sinful, frustrating person I know is a child of yours. Give me gentleness beyond myself and grace that cannot be explained apart from You. Your children are worth it! 


rmslil said...

I have been convicted recently on gossip. Not that I gossip alot but occassionally I do. I was accused this week of being a gossip when really it was a concerned statement. It also was fact, I kept telling myself, it is not gossip because it is fact. God wanted me to read this as a reminder that he wants me to not get caught up in all the action and drama and back away.
I am glad that was your post tonight, just another way God works.

HW said...

I do have a couple of friends, whom I've known for many years and yet I've never heard them gossip....EVER. Unfortunately I cannot say that about myself but they make me strive to be a better person.
Something I have started doing when someone tells me a "juicy tale" about somebody else is say "well, I have no room to judge - I've certainly made my share of poor choices" This usually quiets them down and it humbles all of us to put the spotlight on our own weaknesses.

Anonymous said...

A great reminder, especially with the humble-pie example. Thank you for writing.

Donna said...

A great post and great reminder!! I love people and therefore talk about them...sometimes that can turn into a fault. I always hope that I never hurt anyone in anyway, but I personally have been hurt by things people have said...therefore...touche"! I have a friend who, when others gossip, silently makes the sign of the cross with her finger across her mouth. Boy, does THAT make you think!!!

Just Another Ordinary Miracle said...

I think this is one of your best posts. Also, one reason you don't often see me sitting at the steps by the pool -:)But - we all fall victim sometime to that nasty little gossip gene that we all have tucked inside us. I think this is a really great post.

Hallie said...

Well said. Especially as women, relational creatures, we tend towards gossip because the flip side of it is so good -- getting to know someone, deepening your relationship comes from knowledge of and shared experience...gossip is the Enemy's way of twisting that..turning us to our flesh. What a good thing to be reminded of. Thanks "Scott Momma"!