Friday, February 26, 2010

Busybody No More

Day 10 
The Gossiping Tongue

This one is easy to identify and unfortunately, easy to slip into. I find it in Christian circles as women try to negotiate the line between "we need to pray for them" vs. wanting to be the person who shares the "news."

Many years ago when my children were in private school I was chatting with another mother. We lived in the same town and she was asking if I wanted to carpool. I was trying to figure out a gracious way to say no. I didn't like carpooling because the time in the car with my children on the way to and from school was very precious 'captive' time, and having another child in the car messed up the dynamic. In order to illustrate the point, I told her about when we tried carpooling with a different family in the school and how it just didn't work. I could have stopped there, but I didn't. I told her how difficult that child was. She agreed and then told me about some incidences between that child and hers.

Later that evening my telephone rang.  It was the woman I had gossiped with. She said, "I want to apologize to you. This afternoon I engaged in gossip and I know that displeases the Lord. I ask your forgiveness."  I stammered out something along the lines of, "I was very wrong too, and I ask yours as well."  In truth I was stunned, and learned VOLUMES from the encounter. How difficult it must have been for her to make that phone call! How liberating it was for me to also acknowledge my sin and to get it cleared up between us. From that day forward my relationship with this mom was on a more mature level than almost any other parent in the school and what a blessing that was.

When women gather, tongues often wag and it's not always to the glory of the Lord. One of the reasons I love that we have chosen to be TV-less is that there's a whole lot of social and pop culture junk that I don't know enough about to care about. So when women are talking about it, I don't feel a need to engage. I am far from 'arrived' on this issue, but the Holy Spirit makes me very aware of it when I do participate in gossip.

My question to you is, what is the appropriate response when other people around you are engaged in a gossipfest? The minimum is to not join in. But should we be doing something more affirmative than that? What does that look like?

Father, may the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be pleasing to you, O Lord. (Psalm 19:14)


quilly said...

Amoeba always says, "You know, I don't know the particulars of the incident and I don't think it is my place to speculate." Which of course is a very wordy way to say, "mind your own business."

I have been known to be much more blunt. When someone says, "Did you hear about Dick and Jane," I might respond, "No, and I don't care to unless Dick & Jane wish to tell me themselves." However, this can result in enemies.

Anonymous said...

Geez I have know clue what the response would be. I try and ignore it. Doesn't always work. So many of these that you are writing about seem to me to be human nature and it's hard to control them. :)

SouthLakesMom said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Amoeba's response. I would imagine that in academic circles it is a LIFESAVER to have a ready answer that is accurate but doesn't sound like he's correcting them.

I'm more like you Quilly, -- if I say anything it is often too blunt.

Thom, that's the thing about human nature. Left to our own devices we are very selfish...

Susan at Stony River said...

Not sure what the appropriate response is -- if you call them out for gossiping it can just make them feel badly, so that can't be the perfect solution. My tactic is usually to just change the subject, but that's just a temporary fix and teaches nothing.

I love Amoeba's response!