In my defense.......I just am a people person. As much as I enjoy my quiet time and I like living in the boonies......I do need social interaction to keep things healthy and balanced. I talk daily to my best friend.....if 2-3 days go by without hearing from her, I tend to get a little concerned and start leaving desperate messages on her machine making sure everything is all right in her world or ask in a paranoid way if I said anything that offended her.
I like to host parties and cookouts. And I am not one of those people who are so busy during the festivities scrambling to make sure there is enough salsa for the chips, ice and cups for the beverages or extra chairs for guests. I do my best to get everything as prepared as possible and have a great group of friends who are always helping me with that kind of stuff. That is why they are always on the top of the guest list. *kidding! I am just being honest that when I invite family and friends over to my home for a party, it is because I want to spend time with them and enjoy their company. I am hoping the feeling is mutual and that they are not wanting me to dote on them (although I do have a few on that list.....don't we all? Like that one very able bodied aunt who sees you putting out all the food, lugging bags of ice, peeling a child off your thigh and swatting a cat off the table. She just stands there and announces that she brought her famous potato casserole with raisins and broccoli. I think I am expected to drop whatever four or five things that I am doing and sprinkle rose petals at her feet all while making an announcement to the entire party that she has arrived. *sorry if that was a little sarcastic* yes Auntie Mary, we love you and your potato salad, even though no-one ever eats it. )
I am on a few online message boards where I have made some great friendships. And I have even met some of them and believe it or not, they did not turn out to be axe murderers like Josh warned me.
I pop on Facebook to see what people are up to although I do get annoyed with people sending me flip-flops and cocktails after a while. FYI, I have ugly bunions so I can't do things between my toes and I gave up drinking almost three years ago. And call me insensitive, but learning that Joe Knight* is going to McDonalds or Jane Shooley* is drinking a smoothie isn't really something that I need to know.
(*not actual Facebookers to my knowledge)
I probably just got "de-friended" by announcing those annoyances, didn't I?
So it's safe to say that I do like people and socializing....but what I am discovering is that the more I get involved with "groups"......whether online, in real life or even all the people in my head....there seems to always be some kind of gossip going on in some level. And as I am growing deeper in my walk with Christ, it is starting to make me more and more uncomfortable.
Gossip. Other wise known as back-fence talk, chitchat, defamation, grapevine, hearsay, idle talk, malicious talk, meddling, scandal, small talk, whispering campaign or dirty laundry. If you are in or around my age.....you must remember Don Henley's hit Dirty Laundry. He sings about how people love hearing about other's troubles or hard times.
"Dirty little secrets, dirty little lies
We got our dirty little fingers in everybody's pie
Love to cut you down to size, we love dirty laundry"
Gossipers have the goal of building themselves up by making others look bad. Having knowledge of someone's private trials has a way of exalting themselves. Gossip can be truth or falsehood, but it is still gossip. Gossip is any communication that hurts people.
Back in the day, I gossiped without even realizing it was gossip. "The Day" refers to before I turned my life over to God, just a little heads' up for ya. Now I wasn't some monger who went around purposely slandering people.....but I thought nothing about repeating someone's personal information or what I heard through the grapevine, which of course got twisted up like that kid's telephone game. Regardless of what "level" it was.....it was hurtful and wrong.
I recently have been getting more involved with new people now that we are into homeschooling, 4-H, and country fairs. Not sure if it is the old small town everyone-knows-everyone-and-their-business way......but occasionally there is a gossip tag attached to some of these interactions.
I will admit that I still sometimes get sucked into those conversations that have those strong gossiping undertones. But now that I am digging deeper with Christ and my eyes and heart are open to what is right and wrong, I am becoming more aware and trying to make a conscious effort to change the direction of these conversations. If that doesn't work I might take the easy road and create a crisis that I must abruptly tend to.....or I might take a higher more difficult road and say that I really don't feel comfortable talking about said person/situation.
Maybe this causes noses to be turned up to me or I'll be the center of the next gossip session.....but at least they will know that they where I stand (and hopefully WHO I stand for). Maybe it will cause them to stop and realize that they are revealing information to those who have no business knowing it or care to know it.
So after another situation last night where I was getting sucked into the tornado of gossip.....I felt very conflicted on the drive home. Before I fell asleep I knew I needed to pray about it. I asked God for forgiveness with genuine repentance. I asked Him to guard my mouth and help me think before I speak.
I need to do my part in this situation as well. I need to make the decision to keep my relationship with these people in an acquaintance level and keep all conversations simple and on the subject on hand. Proverbs 20:19 reminds us " A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much."
Whenever the temptation of this destructive habit arises.....I need to focus on
Scripture is very clear about how much God hates gossip. He hates to see His children hurting one another. The Bible talks about Satan being the source of gossip and a lying slanderer in John 8:44 ".......When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies." Satan's language is to divide, destroy, deceive and discourage.
Whenever the temptation of this destructive habit arises.....I need to focus on the source and bite my tongue. When I am on the receiving end of gossip, I need to not listen. I have to hold myself accountable and know that it takes to gossip, one to talk and one to listen.
I see how serious the sin of gossip is and that it characterizes those who are under God’s wrath. in Romans 1:29 "They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips."
EEK, check this out.....gossip makes 3 of God's Top 7 detestable things in Proverbs 6:17-19
16 There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
OK, so I don't think I need to copy/paste any more Scripture that shows how gossip goes against everything that is God....but know there are many. And I don't want to be part of it any more.
Today, I want to only use my tongue to bring life.....not death.
How about you? How do you deal with gossip? Come'on....you can be honest. I promise it will be safe with me. *wink
I'll leave you with this quote from an unknown author.....