By Rebecca Halton
One of my least-favorite things on the planet is gossip. And I’m not just being dramatic: I loathe it, especially among believers. Few things turn me off to a friendship with someone, as quickly as gossip does. Pop culture has sensationalized gossip — but in reality it is one of the most corrosive conditions of the heart.
So what should we do when the person gossiped about is…us?!
What happens when we’re the person wounded by their words?
What happens when they won’t face us — but talk behind our backs instead?
This happened to me a few months back. Long story short (it would be pretty ironic to gossip in an article about gossip), someone I barely know was doing a whole lot of gossiping about me. This person even took the initiative to unleash a slanderous e-mail — to me directly.
Now, giving her some benefit of the doubt, there was a third party involved…a third party that hadn’t been entirely truthful with both the gossip girl and me. When I finally filled in certain blanks, it made a bit more sense why she’d have certain (but still false) suspicions about me. (Unfortunately, her actions have damaged the opportunity to discuss this with her directly.)
Anyway, I hope these three tips are helpful for you, if you’ve got a gossip girl in your life:
- Stay calm — and quiet. It will be extremely tempting to try to defend yourself — especially if what’s said isn’t true. In fact, it can send you into a tailspin. I’ve tried the self-defense route in past situations, and it only exhausted me (while it also seemed to energize the other person). Keeping quiet can also be an act of grace, extended to the gossip girl. At the very least, take time to thoughtfully (and I recommend prayerfully) formulate a response, vs. let a reaction fly off the handle. Pay attention to the points in the Bible when Jesus spoke up about himself — and when he didn’t.
- Forgive & speak goodness. I’ve had moments — like, white-knuckled moments — where I have been so tempted to click “send” on an e-mail. Or I’ve quietly gritted my teeth, seething with frustration…. It’s one thing when you have offended someone, or there is a legitimate grievance. But gossip is gossip. And trying to reason with a gossip girl is as risky as purposely walking into a tornado: you’ll probably get swept away, and there’s no guarantee you’ll land safely. Free yourself by forgiving and blessing them: there is great power in both. Seek shelter in God’s love.
- Separate your friends from your “fauxs”. You can tell a lot about people, based on how they act when they “inherit” gossip about you. Do they act like a million bucks just landed into their laps? Or, do they act like it’s a pile of garbage instead? Are they delighted to be “in the know,” or do they want nothing to do with it? Do they stand up for you, or do they “throw you under the bus,” so to speak? Pay attention, praise God for learning who’s a true friend — and consider putting space between you and them (if they’re not).
Your Turn! These three tips are just a few of wise ways you can handle gossip. Tell me in the comments section: What are some godly ways or meaningful Scriptures that have helped you deal with a gossip girl?
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In Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? you will receive indisputable hope and the practical, easy-to-understand tools that will help you:
- Take back control of your own serenity
- Realize why difficult people are so difficult…
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- Handle conflicts and confrontation with amazing grace
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