Kim Anderson, Guest Blogger

 

Recently I was with a friend when she said the dreaded words, “You wanna know what I heard?” Now before you go on thinking I am holier than thou and was so offended by the offering up of gossip, I wasn’t. I was intrigued and I physically sat up straight in my chair as if my position would somehow help me receive this salacious news in a more appropriate way. For the record, I am a good secret keeper. I don’t tell other people’s secrets they’ve confided in me and I’m generally reliable for keeping my mouth shut when it’s none of my business, but I am a sucker for a good “story.” Again, for those of you getting irritated with me for the second time, I have lived long enough and have been honest with myself long enough to know there is a very real difference between letting a friend pour her heart out to you and confide her hurts and concerns in you and granting permission to fill your mind and heart with gossip. I am speaking to the latter.

Ladies, let’s be honest, gossip is a bonding tool. It feels good to know stuff and to share your “I know something you don’t know” with your besties. We all gasp and either respond with “Bless her heart” or run home to continue the chain of gossip to our spouses and disguise it as “confiding in” our spouses because we don’t “hide” anything from them…ahem…this girl’s holding her hand up. We act as if new, interesting information is money burning a hole in our pockets that we just can’t wait to spend. The Bible nails it (but it kinda always does, right?):

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15, NASB).

“…no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14, ESV).

No, I am not calling you or your gossiping friends Satan or Ravenous Wolves, but what they are doing and what you are allowing is likened to these things for a reason. They are like weeds poking through concrete. This summer I was walking out of the post office and noticed a beautiful patch of flowers growing in the middle of the sidewalk. My first instinct was to wonder how something so pretty could be called a weed. My second thought, however, was why we pull weeds and what could happen to the sidewalk if someone didn’t rip those flowers out by the root. What was seemingly beautiful on the outside was wreaking havoc on the underside of that concrete. Pretty soon, cracks would spread and the entire sidewalk would have to be jackhammered and replaced. I don’t know about you but I’d rather pull the weeds of gossip out now than to endure a jackhammering of my heart because the weeds have run too rampant.

Here the Bible goes — nailing it again:
“For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.  As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body” (Proverbs 26:20-22, ESV).

You know what else feels good? Being someone that NO ONE would believe gossiped or spoke badly of them. That feels stinkin’ awesome! An even better feeling, and one I’m trying so hard to feel more often, is the amazing knowledge that you were able to protect your heart and your friends heart from words that can’t be unspoken. Knowing that you can trust your girlfriends so implicitly that whenever they are not in your presence they protect your reputation and you protect theirs. A true sisterhood could exist.

This is tough stuff though. How do we stay friends and grow friendships with someone who likes to gossip when we are trying so hard to not even hear gossip? I am a firm believer in modeling behavior. If your friend likes to gossip but never heard any affirmations, exclamations, or inquisitions from you, then you will most likely be left out of those conversations in the future. For those few, persistent gossipers, respond with disengagement. Have you ever tried to talk to someone who seemed completely disinterested in what you have to say? It’s awful, but effective. You STOP talking. It might feel weird, but it’s better than putting vibes out there that you accept this type of behavior. A third option is to simply humble yourself and say, “I’ve been feeling really convicted lately about gossiping and I want you to hold me accountable for my words. If you hear me say something that isn’t uplifting or kind about someone, can you please call me on it?” Can you imagine saying that to someone and them trying to gossip to you? Uh…no.

I’m the last one to cast judgement on others — I am calling myself out. I want to be a daughter, sister, friend, and colleague who is known to be trustworthy and a person who builds up and doesn’t tear down. I want to be a person known for defending the honor of others and…drumroll, please…..a Christian known to live out her beliefs. I want to walk the talk more than anything else. Let’s commit together to becoming a generation of women who live for edifying, affirming, and blessing other women and being women of whom no one would EVER believe spoke badly of someone else.

Pull those weeds and don’t let them deceive you as something harmless, for they are infiltrating the very depths of your heart and will likely need a jackhammering before too long.

 

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KIM ANDERSON lives in Springfield, MO with her college sweetheart husband of seven years and her Thomas the Train obsessed 3.5-year-old joyful little boy. After graduating from Evangel University, she pursued a masters degree in Educational Administration and works as a Learning Development Specialist in the Springfield Public School system.