Betrayed by Gossip

I don’t know how much longer I can do this job. 

Those are the words I heard someone say. I thought they were having a conversation with someone else.  So I was surprised to find him sitting alone when I walked by his office. So I did what no good Christian should ever do. 

I told someone else. 

She was concerned with his words, and I realized I should have kept quiet.  I asked her not to say anything to him. Of course not. She said. But less than an hour later, she had already shared the information with at least three others. 

I could have kicked myself. I knew better than to say those words to her. I knew I shouldn’t have said them to anyone. I felt ashamed and convicted. I felt as if I had betrayed this man who trusted me. Yet he didn’t know that anyone had even heard him. But I knew.

I’ll never know why I did it. I just know that I did it. 

I should have known she would tell others. She always does. She’s gossip central at the office. Now I’m just like her. 

He doesn’t know what I did. I can’t tell him. I want him to trust me. But can he? If I swear on a stack of Bibles and don’t step on a crack and break my mother’s back, would he trust me then?


Troublemakers start fights. Gossips break up friendships. Proverbs 16:28


That’s the problem with gossip. It can offend those closest to you if you don’t learn to keep quiet. Words once said can’t be taken back. So just don’t say them. Just because something is true doesn’t mean it should be said to someone else.

I read that the Trinity (God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) talk about me behind my back. Imagine it! The words they are saying about me are truth. Oh. It may not be pretty what they’re discussing. I know what I’ve done. I know what I’ve said. And so do they. I would love to hear what they say about me. They are speaking hope and life for me. They love me even when I don’t deserve it.

The thing about their conversations is that they aren’t gossiping. They want the best for me. Did I say the words about my coworker because I wanted the best for him? What were my intentions? I have to ask myself. What was my purpose in sharing the words I had heard him say in a moment of frustration?

I’m reminded of the song “Words” by Hawk Nelson. Even though my words are truth, they need to be life to someone else. Not make them feel like a prisoner. Not be spoken in a whisper so the “wrong” person doesn’t hear. I need to make sure my words are the type that can be heard by anyone who is listening. Because I know that God is always listening. I need to make sure my words are pleasing to him.

Words

They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king

They’ve lifted my heart
To places I’d never been
And they’ve dragged me down
Back to where I began

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

You can heal the heartache
Speak over the fear
God, Your voice is the only thing
We need to hear

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Let the words I say
Be the sound of Your grace
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

I wanna speak Your love
Not just another noise
Oh, I wanna be Your light
I wanna be Your voice

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Let the words I say
Be the sound of Your grace
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts
Or put it out

I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Feedback

She asked to meet with me.  She wanted to hear my thoughts on how the job was going.  We chatted.  She offered feedback.  When is feedback ever positive?  Oh.  Her feedback was supplied by someone else.  She named the informant.  I was surprised with the feedback.  But not offended.  After all, I’m new.  I’m still learning.  I’m in training.

Another new person also had a meeting.  She also received feedback.  Feedback that offended her greatly.  She couldn’t let it go.  So she talked to another.  Little did she know that her information would be passed on further.

It seems that these coworkers share more than they should.  They discuss salaries.  Raises.   Performance reviews.  Beefs with coworkers.  Oh.  They’re nice.  But do I trust them?

So I’ve learned.  I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut.  Oh.  I already knew to do that. But now I’m careful what I say and who I say it to.

One, in particular, likes to gossip.  She learned of my meeting.  She knew I had received feedback.  She was desperate to know what had been said.  So she pretended to be friendly.  Asked about my weekend.  She was fishing.  Fishing for information about my feedback.  I didn’t take the bait.  I knew that if I shared it, everyone would know by the end of the day.  That’s not what I want.


Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.  Ephesians 4:29


I once worked with another group of women.  They had a meeting to discuss what they didn’t like about each other.  Oh.  Imagine how the tensions flew.  Needless to say, that group fell apart.  Quickly.  By the time I joined the team, all trust was gone.

Why would they do that?  How can people be so cruel?  Why didn’t they instead share what they liked about each other?  Why not build up instead of tear down one another?

I wonder.  What would happen if we would focus on the positive and beautiful instead of finding the juicy gossip or negative tidbits about others?  Why do we instead go for the information that will get us the most laughs or gasps of horror?  When the story is about another?  Why do we do that?

Oh.  You’re guilty.  I’m guilty.  We all have done it.  Most likely.  We all will do it again.  But what if we stopped first and asked ourselves a question.  If this information I’m about to share was about me, would I share it?  Is there a positive story about the other person I can share so others will see them in a better light?  Or.  Why say anything at all?

If someone is talking about others to you, then they’re most likely talking about you to others. 

I learned that lesson years ago in another work situation.  Someone I worked with would tell me unflattering stories about others in the company.  Then it dawned on me one day.  She must also be talking about me to those people.  Because I could see the way they looked at me.

If you can’t say anything nice or positive, don’t say anything at all.  If Jesus Christ was standing beside you, what words would you say?

 

Lesson Learned

It’s been in the news again this week.  Another high profile person going down for treating others disrespectfully.  He got fired.  Others haven’t.  But investigations may or may not prove the truth of what’s being said.

I’m sure there are many others living in fear that their disgusting acts and words will be shared with the world.  Their worst moments will be publicized.  Are they preparing for a fight?  Will they defend themselves even if the proof is undeniable?  Are they really innocent and suffering needlessly?  Only time will tell.

I’ve never understood how people who’ve treated others badly seem to be sorry only when they’ve been caught.  When they’ve been outed to the world.  When the bad acts have perhaps been happening for years?  Why act sorry now?  Are they sorry they hurt someone else?  Did they try to stop themselves?  Did they just move on and find another victim?  Or are they just sorry they got caught?  I always wonder.


Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble. Proverbs 21:23


I never understood that type of behavior.  Until I realized I’m one of them.  Oh.  Not for the same reason.  But I am guilty of doing wrong to another.

I talked about her behind her back.  I was sorry only when I thought she had heard me.

Now I know how those public figures feel when they’ve been outed for their sins.  When their private acts become public knowledge.  They’re sorry now that they’ve been caught.  That’s how I felt.  Sorry that I’d been caught.  Why wasn’t I sorry for speaking ill of someone while I was doing it?  Why didn’t I just stop my words when they became thoughts?  Because I thought she wasn’t sitting near me.  Because I thought she wouldn’t hear.  Because I thought I wouldn’t get caught.

I’m no better than those who have been caught.  I wronged an innocent person.  She did nothing wrong.  She didn’t ask for it.  I was wrong.

It’s a different emotion you feel when you’ve been caught.  Where once you felt in control of the situation, now the situation controls you.  You live in fear.  You’ve been exposed for who you really are.  No longer invincible.  No longer living with integrity.  No longer the trusted friend.

Shame.  Remorse.  Fear.  Dare we hope for forgiveness.  I can see how someone living in the depths of hopelessness might choose to end their life.  When they think they are unforgivable.  When they know the world will learn of their failings.  When they think they’ve lost everything.  I’m not hopeless. I didn’t consider ending my life.  But I wanted to run.  I wanted to run away from the situation and never go back.  I don’t ever again want to have that awful feeling in my gut that I’ve wronged someone else.

No.  There was no inappropriate touching or gestures.  No sleazy suggestions or threats.  But there were words spoken about someone who trusted me.  Someone who days before had called me friend.  Why did I do it?  I was uncomfortable with her friendliness.  Wanting more from me than I could give.  So I spoke about her.  Not against her.  But not for her.

I get it now.  How others must feel when they’ve been exposed.  It feels ugly.  Really ugly.  How do I face her ever again?  How can I look her in the eye?

I’ve graciously been spared from embarrassment this time.  My rude words were left unheard by the victim.  Heartache that could have happened didn’t.  My honor is still intact.  At least, outwardly.  Inwardly, it’s taken a beating.  As it should.  I’ve learned my lesson.

Gossipmonger

I remember the interview as if it were yesterday.  In reality, it’s been 21 years.

She became my boss.  I remember thinking we could probably be friends.  We couldn’t.  Her mood swings were the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  A pendulum of emotions.  I watched every morning to see the look on her face as she walked in.  That one look would tell me how the day would play out.

We had a rocky relationship from the start.  Here, I thought we could be friends and it became the worst relationship of my life.  I was constantly being compared to the person I replaced.   I could do no right.  I couldn’t even ask good questions.  That’s what she told me.

She would tell me about the man who sat across the way from her.  I could never understand their problem.  But she talked about him more than she should have.  She stewed over the fact that he was male and she was female.  Life didn’t seem fair to her.

After many months, she told me the reason.   He knew her deep dark secret.  The one thing she only told a trusted few.  He had guessed.  She had confessed.  From that moment on, she didn’t trust him.  She knew he could out her at any time.  He never did.  But it was the elephant in the room.

Did she hate him because he knew her secret?  Could he not be trusted?  Had he really done anything wrong?  Was she afraid he was going to talk about her just as she talked about him?  Was her fear the enemy of her own soul?

He never said a word.  But he knew her secret.

She used to tell me the faults and misdeeds of others, as well.  I listened.  I noted.  I felt she was trying to sway my opinion.  I came to my own conclusions of those being discussed.  And of her.

You see.  One day the truth dawned.  It was a sad and scary truth.

If she was talking to me about others, then she was talking about me to others.  It’s a hard sentence to read.  It’s a harder truth to swallow.

That’s the way gossip goes.  No one is exempt.  You talk about the one you’re not with.  Your confidant is the one you’re with.  At that moment.

It happens all the time.

Innocent fact sharing.  Purposeful venting.  Secret letting.  Fact checking.  Getting the other side of the story.  Comparing details.  Insinuating evil.  Assuming our words are safe with certain others.

Gossipmonger:  A person who habitually passes on confidential information or spreads rumors.


Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14


I think about my conversations.  When have I shared facts just to appear in the know?  When have I vented because the situation turned in someone else’s favor?  When have I spilled the beans about someone else’s life because I was with my best friend?  When have I fact checked just because?  When have I compared details because I don’t want to be confused?  When have I assumed my words were safe with others and they’ve come back to bite me?  When have I talked about others because they were different from me?

After the creation, God saw all the wickedness that was happening.  He saw that the hearts and thoughts of man were only evil all the time. He was sorry he had ever made man. (Genesis 6:5-6).  That smarts.  Smacks me upside the head with the truth about my own heart.  My own words.  My own intentions.

Who am I to judge others’ words and intentions when mine aren’t always pleasing to God?