Okay everyone, there it is. I said it. I’ve confessed it to the world wide web. I am guilty of gossiping. If you hate me and want to stop reading, fine. But, I’m going to first call your bluff…you gossip, too. Oh come on, you know you do. Every single person does. Some may even say it’s natural. It’s inherent in our culture. It’s harmless. Those things may be true, but, does that make it okay? Is it possible to change? Even with super duper small baby steps? I think so.
Every Monday evening, I have the distinct privilege of hosting eight women at my house for bible study. Yes, bible study. Now you just can’t stop reading, can you?! Last week marked the first of a three-week series on Gossip. The intention is fairly simple. We come together and ask ourselves the following questions: What is gossip? What does God and the bible say about it? Why do we do it and who is it with? How can make progress and be transformed to live better lives?
Well, as you can imagine, something that seemingly is “simple” on the outside doesn’t always net out to be that way on the inside…with a group of women…who like to talk…and having the mystery and awesomeness of God involved. Nope, not simple. But, this past Monday night we went deep to tackle these questions and I found our findings to be blog-worthy. I also figured, hey, if all of us crazy, messed up women want to try to live a better life, perhaps some of my crazy, messed up (and extremely loyal and amazing) readers can, too 🙂 Here are some of the points I jotted down:
First, we confirmed that it’s not actually “gossip” by definition that was our challenge (we realized starting rumors about people was so circa 1995), but rather, it’s the engaging in and the leading of any type of negative or inappropriate conversation. For the purposes of this blog I am still going to use the word “gossip” because I don’t feel like typing “negative or inappropriate conversation” each time I want to reference.
Why do we “gossip”? Oh, let me count the ways!
-For validation. Wanting someone else to agree with your insanity, your offensiveness, your “mean girl” spirit.
-To share information first. To feel like you have the power and insight more than others.
-It feels good. Ugh, hate this answer, but sadly, it’s true. Here’s the caveat to that. It only feels good for a second/in the moment.
-And here’s another one I hate. We gossip to make ourselves feel better. To feel better than someone else. Ugh.
-We don’t know. No, not a typo. Sometimes it’s either hard to pinpoint why we are doing it. Hmmmm…
Almost everyone agreed that when they gossip, they know it. Their insides are telling them. Their gut is screaming “stop it already!” And often, we don’t stop.
Almost everyone also agreed that asking someone to stop or telling them you don’t think it’s right is almost impossible to do. Why? For fear of what it may do to the relationship, fear of the person thinking they are being judged (even if it is coming from a pure place), fear of it just being incredibly awkward. So what happens? We let it go and in most cases we engage. And then we walk away and feel like shit. Yep, girls in a bible study said the word shit.
What I loved about our discussion is that together we came up with a few filters and solutions, so to speak, that could help us going forward:
- Ask yourself this question: Would I say this in front of the person? Would I be okay if my boss heard me talking like this? My spouse? God?
- Am I a part of the problem? Am I a part of the solution? If the answer is no to both of these, zip your lip!
- If what you are saying isn’t true, necessary or kind, challenge yourself to, um, not say it! Easier said than done.
- If you are getting the nudge (ahem, the Holy Spirit) to shut up, honor the nudge and shut it!
- Have a friend or sister or brother or spouse hold you accountable to your big mouth. Oh sorry, did I type that?
- Pray. Yep, that’s typically the best solution. The power of prayer is a-mazing.
We don’t have it all figured out (and there were/are many unanswered questions). And we won’t be changed over night. But we can make baby steps. If we first confess that we gossip. Dig deeper to understand more. And commit to trying to change.
Do you gossip (obviously that’s a trick question per sentence six above)? Do you like it? Do you sometimes feel like shit after? Have any good pointers? Write me a note!