Everyone seems to struggle with gossip. I do not think there is a social human being that does not struggle with it. There are times when I have fallen into it too. Maybe I think I am just venting frustrations, maybe I think I am seeking council, maybe I just want to help a person or worst case senerio I just want to feel better about my poor decisions in comparison to someone else’s decisions.
The thing about gossip that I go back to is very frequently, the gossip is never the truth. Sometimes it is a small portion of the truth but often times it is not even really that. Often times the gossip we hear is another person’s take away from what they heard. It has their past experiences and their perspective intertwined in it. So just knowing that by gossiping there is a very likely chance that I am lying, spreading a lie or at the very least telling a half truth is most of the time enough for me to decide not to gossip. Meditating on that very thought is often enough for me to have pause in repeating what I heard.
Another thing about gossip is that if the person being talked about hears the gossip, it gets back to them, often times it is just hurtful. When hearing a rumor especially about myself or of someone I think I know well, I think, really that is what the person thinks? What could have possibly been done to even back up such a claim? Where did they get lost in understanding a person’s thoughts or heart? How could someone even say that, think that? I am not asking that question to accuse them of wrong doing but to more clearly see what is going on with them that they see it in that particular light. Therefore, I am able to correct misunderstandings if I choose to do so. Often times I personally choose not to correct gossip because it involves someone’s story I am not willing to share or even a part of my own story that should be kept to only a few. Anyhow, yeah trying to see how a misunderstanding was started helps to comprehend where the other person is coming from.
Gossip also is a way of killing a person. I know that sounds strong but also it is true. Often times it kills a person’s inner spirit, self-esteem. If you have ever been on the receiving end of gossip it can really hurt. Well, dependent on the reason for the gossip. Also dependent on what the story of the gossip is. If fake news is damage to a person soul and I caused it, that sounds like serious potential damage. Maybe it is easier to just stay off the phone, avoid going for walks with that friend, or have a response always ready. “How does this concern your eternal soul?”
Granted, I think it hurts way less the closer you are to God. When a person knows who they are in Christ regardless of what others are saying, it takes the sting out of the words. We are to visit with our maker daily so that the words of others do not effect us as much. What God’s says about us in the Bible means more to us surely than what others say about us or even to us that hurts.
So what are we to do with gossip? I think, you try to determine the reason for the gossip. If it is to connect then get them talking about a related IDEA. Great minds talk about ideas. For instance, let’s say someone was going on and on about how messy a house was. You state I think this parent is really good at spending time with their kids. You, know the other day, I was reading an article on how parents only spend like 30 minutes a day with their kids. I thought it would be so much more! Turning it into an idea discussion instead of people discussing, will still connect people and you all learn something at the same time.
We all know this but knowing and doing are two very separate things. In a moment things are said without deeper thought. If it is to vent. Then let the person vent. Offer emotional, spiritual support. Follow up in a timely manner. Than it stops with you. If it is to seek council than help the person discern what is going on. If it is to seek positive reinforcement than figure out ways you can build them up that is truthful. Figuring out the why they are even talking about it is key to making speech about others a positive thing.
Ask me about my vow of silence. Or at least my trying frequent choice to be silent on things. Have you ever taken a vow of silence? Like not at a retreat but in daily life. I suggest this as a possible solution if it is a daily struggle or part of your cross. Just take an hour maybe work your way up to a whole 24 hours. (Said the true introvert.) The thing is, being silent can be difficult. However, when you are silent it is much easier to recognize the reasons for communicating with others. Listening to others is so beneficial to our own souls. Plus than you have more time to communicate with God.
That is my thoughts on struggling with addictive gossip. What is yours?