Of course, I would get off that phone with that friend and repeat the same scenario with the next friend and then be playing jump rope with both of them on the playground the next day; as if we were BFF's. I never really knew that gossiping was wrong. It was so normal and tolerated that it almost seemed odd if you weren't talking about somebody.
I can recall though, how hurtful it was to find out someone you thought was your friend had been talking about you to anyone who would listen. Making fun of your hair, your clothes or telling people lies about you. My little girl heart was broken by "so called friends" more times than I can count; but worse than that, I was guilty of damaging hearts in return.
My sinful and pitiful act of gossiping about others continued well into adulthood. When I worked full time before having children, I worked in an office FULL OF ALL WOMEN. Needless to say, gossiping should have been what we got paid for.
It was awful. No one was safe around that office. It was so bad in fact, that we had to hold staff meetings to discuss the negative behavior happening throughout the office. Our workplace hauled in special "inspirational" speakers to try and train us in proper communication and kindness toward our fellow co workers.
It never worked. The room full of ladies would sit and listen, shed some tears of remorse for their hurtful actions and a week later, the back stabbing and gossiping would resume. One of the hardest lessons I have learned was; "if they will do it with you, they will do it to you."
How naive I was to think that these ladies were just gossiping with me.
When I began my walk with Christ, this was an area I was quickly convicted in, but took me quite some time to improve. What happened was I simply renamed my gossiping into; "talking about someone out of care and concern."
I may not have been necessarily bad mouthing them, but I was sharing information I did not need to be with others and did not have permission to share. This scripture resonates in my mind each time I begin to talk about another individual....
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful in building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29
This scripture simply stated: do not say a word about another person, unless it is to build that person up and it will benefit those that are listening. It benefits no one when you gossip, I recently had a real life example of this!
In the recent years, I have become much more aware of this downfall through God's grace, however, I believe He still wanted to hammer this point into my heart through I flat iron hair iron.
YES! He used my hair tools to do so!
I went into a Beauty Supply store to purchase a new flat iron. The young girl working there was very kind and told me the kind I was choosing was a great choice, but mentioned nothing else to me about the iron. I brought it home, used it a couple of times and was not overly impressed with the price I paid for it. It seemed to be damaging my hair and I decided not to keep it.
I called down to the store and they nice lady assured me they would take it back with my receipt. When I got to the store to return it, the young lady could not have been kinder and took it back with no questions asked. I explained to her my reasoning for not keeping the iron and she said "totally fine."
She must not have noticed that I went to look around a little more, when another lady walked in and needed help at the counter. She helped her and while I was standing in an isle, I heard another girl from the store ask what this was?
She was referring to the iron I had returned. The young lady that waited on me started telling her, in a tad bit of an annoyed tone, that I had returned the iron because it was damaging my hair. She went on to talk about me in a questionable tone, saying you should have used a heat protectant spray on her hair and so forth. The two girls continued to discuss me and my flat iron issues in front of another customer, until the customer said to them..."I think she is still here."
I sat there pondering what to do. I was a tad annoyed myself and I get so frustrated with bad customer service and there it was!! I felt the grace of God covering me, as I knew everything I say, everything I do reflects on Him.
The young girl went on to say.. "no, I think she left." The customer said, "no she didn't."
At that point I popped my head out from the isle and said, "no, she didn't!"
The young ladies were stunned! They fumbled over their words, in attempt to redeem themselves. I simply kept my cool and explained to them, I had done all the things they had been talking about, I simply was not pleased with the product for the price I paid for it. They were kind in return, however, my view of them had been totally changed in an instant.
I hold no grudge and forgive them for their gossiping, I do not even know them really,but I will never look at that young lady the same again, if I ever go to that store again.
That is was gossiping does. It can be hurtful and damaging to the person you are gossiping about (though, this did not hurt me, it annoyed me) and it causes others to lose respect for the gossiper. There is no doubt that I have often talked about another person with an individual in hopes of helping them and in attempt to find out how I can help them, however, we must always be cautious of our heart and motives.What that also told me, is that this is probably a very common practice among those two girls, to talk about customers when they leave the store.
I know, I know, I know, it probably happens everywhere. I guess I choose to live blindly! LOL Simply because, God has taught me how damaging and horrible it is to talk about others and He used this experience to drive His point home! It does make me ponder how often I walk out of a room and others begin a gossipy session about me.
I never realized how I appear, as I am taking part in this horrible act. I do not ever want someone to see me in that light, that I am untrustworthy, back stabbing or not a woman of integrity. It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but seconds to ruin it!
This scripture has come alive to me even more...
"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and find clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:3-4
There was nothing beautiful about that situation. It did not bring out any inner beauty in those two young ladies, in fact, any beauty I did happen to see on the outside was wiped out in that moment.
Oh, I know how difficult it is to keep your mouth closed. I also understand that sometimes it seems like harmless talking, no harm to be done,however, always ask yourself, if you were overhearing this conversation about YOU, how would you feel?
It is almost like the squirmy, uncomfortable feeling of someone watching you and you not knowing it, it feels similar to hear others talking about you when they do not realize you are still there, even when the talk is not overly negative. It is just not right.
I continue to pray for God to take the temptation away from me, to share or talk about people or things, that I should not be talking about. Let the words that leave my mouth regarding others, be only uplifting and beneficial! I pray the same for all of you!!
Peace and Blessings
Your Friend In Christ