Psssst! Did you hear?
You know the tell-tale signs. The whispers. The giggles. The way people look at you when you pass them in the halls. Yep: Gossip. It may not seem like a big deal when you’re doing the gossiping. But when the rumors are about you? It’s time for action—and prayer.
In this week’s roundtable, members of the Christian Science Organization at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, discuss how they’re thinking and praying about gossip. Bottom line: Be proactive. You don’t have to wait to be the victim of gossip—or a participant in the chatter—to make a spiritual difference.
Gordon: One thing I’ve thought about gossip is that it’s sort of sly. It seems like it’s something that everyone “just does.” But I think we can challenge that right from the start, and Mary Baker Eddy told us how when she wrote, “The time for thinkers has come”. 1
Jill: So maybe that means asking ourselves what’s really true about a person. For example, legally, you can sue someone for slander if they say offensive things about you. But if what they’re saying is actually true, then it can’t be considered slander. Spiritually, we can take this to another level by comparing what we’re hearing about someone to their true, spiritual identity. If what we’re hearing doesn’t match up with God’s view of the person as His/Her beloved child, then we can dismiss the gossip as “slander”—we don’t have to repeat it (even to ourselves), or give it any power.
Bing: And actually, that’s kind of the litmus test for whether or not you’re gossiping. If you’re judging someone else, that’s probably gossip. Whereas if you’re valuing something about them and sharing that with other people, it’s very different.
Jill: We’ve probably all gossiped at some point or another, but as I’ve grown, I now experience more of a “hangover” from gossiping. Maybe it was a fun thing to do with friends in the past, but these days, it almost immediately doesn’t feel good. I’m left feeling like I have to backtrack— like I have to work to get back to where I was, mentally, before I gossiped.
Gordon: What’s interesting, though, is that there’s proof in the Bible that even though gossip needs to be addressed, you don’t have to be the victim of rumors—you don’t have to be hurt or damaged by them. In the story of Daniel , Daniel never did anything wrong, but he was still the subject of gossip, ridicule, and jealousy from the other vice regents. 2 Throughout the story, he was continually honest, genuine, and reverent—and it was these qualities, his “innocency,” that ultimately saved him.
When you’re right in the heat of a difficult situation, it might be hard to maintain the same kind of calm trust in God that Daniel had. But God has given each of us the same humility and dominion that He gave to Daniel—it’s part of that kingdom of heaven within us that the Bible talks about. And we can draw on those qualities to rise above any gossip that’s aimed at us.
Jill: I think it comes down to seeing both ourselves and others as whole. When I worked in a halfway house, a bunch of the women there seemed to dislike me and would talk about me constantly behind my back. At first, this really hurt me because it seemed like they thought I was arrogant—and I definitely didn’t see myself that way at all. But then I realized that maybe the “arrogance” came from my not seeing these women as whole people. I was viewing them as people in need of fixing, and that I was the one who was there to fix them. Even though I wasn’t really able to change the dynamic of the situation at the time, that experience has been a good lesson for me. Now I’m much more alert to how I’m thinking about people, including myself. Are we just flawed mortals, or are we the whole, complete, blessed children of God?
Jessica: That’s exactly what we’re learning in my child development class. In fact, that’s one of the building blocks for everything we do with children: remembering in every situation that there’s no such thing as a bad child. Maybe the child’s decision has been bad, but the child isn’t bad. And the same thing applies to gossip. When we’re examining other people’s actions or talking about them, it’s important to separate the decision from the person.
Gordon: Which is really the basis for healing anything, right? Perfect God and perfect man? 3Science and Health with Key to The Scriptures, p. 259[\ref] There’s no place for gossip (or anything else) to gain a foothold when that’s your starting point.
Topics: Gossiping | Tags: gossip, University of Wisconsin