“Oh my goodness! Did you hear…?”

Such a statement prompts us to lean in and listen carefully before we add unsolicited advice about the juicy gossip revealed. We may be at a backyard barbecue with friends and family, or in the bleachers during a ball game. Wherever people gather, gossip weasels its way into conversations.

Did you hear about…? Do you know why she….? I heard they were…! How did he get…..? What was she thinking when…?

Unfortunately, what’s whispered is often untrue and embellished by each person who repeats it. Fuzzy facts (if there were any) are hardly recognizable even if based on truth.

So, what is gossip? Basically, it’s a casual conversation about things not confirmed to be true, and perpetuated by those who habitually reveal such information to others.

We’re all storytellers, but we have no business telling a story not ours to tell. And before you wonder…yes, I’m guilty. Aren’t we all? But we can do better!

Here’s a little experiment for your next summertime gathering…

Write a crazy story (examples below) and ask a person to read it then whisper it to the person on his/her right until the whispered story reaches everyone. Ask the final person to reveal the gossip aloud. Read the original story and listen for differences. This is a powerful teachable moment for children (as well as adults).

Story #1: Suzie and John are so broke they can’t even pay their own rent, but she still goes shopping every weekend while he goes to fishing tournaments with his buddies.

Story #2 (great for kids): Princess had four puppies…one is brown, one is white, and two are spotted but they all have pink noses and fat bellies.

Story #3: Mary and Sam are getting a divorce. He’s having a fling with his married co-worker and she met someone online.

These fictional examples are meant to be harmless and silly, but what if they aren’t?

Perhaps your best friend’s parents are struggling financially because of medical bills, yet some think they simply can’t manage their money.

What if your neighbors are getting a divorce? There is always more to the story. More importantly, it’s not your business.

Maybe someone overdosed – was it suicide or accidental? Does it really matter? Someone died!

Scripture warns us of the negative outcome of gossip. It can separate the closest of friends according to Proverbs 16:28. True. Proverbs 18:8 says it causes deep wounds. Also true.

Stories change with each whispered exchange. The woundedness of idle words lasts a lifetime. Relationships suffer. Hearts are broken. Words isolate and intimidate. According to the adage about sticks and stones, words won’t hurt, yet they do no matter our age!

And here’s an observation…there are some who would never think of spreading gossip yet they are quick to share dicey details as a prayer request. Ouch!

There’s a very fine line, folks! God knows every situation and those who pray don’t need to know details. Can I get an amen?

In our lifetimes, most of us have experienced setbacks or obstacles or tragedies that have caused others to talk (gossip) about us, but I believe we can do better. In fact, I’m challenging myself to a summer of gossip-free gatherings! Care to join me?

I will choose my words wisely knowing unnecessary words, carelessly spoken, cause damage.

I will mind my own business rather than diving into the business of others.

I will cultivate a gossip-free zone by not even LISTENING to gossip. Gossip stops with a wise person.

Instead, I will use words to encourage, uplift, and inspire others.

(c) Elaine McAllister 2022 All Rights Reserved.

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