To Those Who Slander Others,
I wish I had the courage to speak this way to your face, but I’m a coward, so I hide behind a screen and write. I avoid confrontation like it’s the plague and if you knew what I’ve been through the past few years, I’m sure you’d understand why.
There’s very few people, if any, who change when they’re confronted – even less people who choose to walk in humility when they know they’re wrong and those who show sincere remorse and repentance without shifting the blame are almost non-existent. Change takes humility and repentance. It takes eyes that recognize what we’ve done and it takes a heart that truly feels the pain of our actions. To change, one needs to stop making excuses for their behaviour. They have to be grieved at the hurt they’ve caused and yearn to make things right.
Today I was grieved for you. For me. For what you spoke. For what I heard and listened to. For the words that were spoken with little thought of whom they affected. For my failure to stop what was being said. I felt burdened because I froze up, my gentle attempts at changing the subject were ignored and I couldn’t bring myself to say stop. I didn’t know how to.
I hate gossip.
There is nothing more divisive, more hurtful, more untrustworthy to do than to indulge in it, especially for our own entertainment.
The wreckage they leave behind is worse than an unsuspected land mine. They kill friendships and ruin families. Make no mistake, I do not pretend to be above it. In fact, it’s why I can’t look into your face and tell you to stop. Because at one point or another, I’m positive I’ve said something hurtful that I shouldn’t have about others. And I hate that I’m not innocent of this, for maybe if I was, I could be bold in standing up for those now being mercilessly attacked by your words.
I’ve struggled with gossip, but I have realized that the best way to overcome gossip is to avoid the people who delight in it. And so I have. I avoid shallow people who talk of nothing but others. Who whisper about each other as they leave the room. They are repulsive to me!
But then there’s you.
I’m not willing to cut you out of my life because of what you mean to me, but I ache – oh I ache – when we’re together, for your words are so hurtful, so full bitterness and spite. You seem completely unconcerned about who they may affect. You slander strangers and loved ones alike. You are merciless in your assessment of those around you.
And I wonder, do you even love people?Are you capable of caring for them? Or do you just think that you do?
And when I leave the room, just what kinds of terrible things are said about me? Do you pick apart my life, my church, my faith, my parenting? Do you tell others callously about what I share with you in confidence? Do you gossip about my children, their characters and struggles, when I’ve opened up about them, in good faith, with you?
Do you mock my choices, my past sins, my current failures, instead of praying for them?
Without hesitation, my guess is, you do.
Oh, if you would only realize what gossip of this sort does to relationships! It hurts them beyond measure! THEY may never find out what you have said, but they will KNOW that you are speaking of them.
Just as I know.
Because over time gossip becomes a character trait. Those who indulge in it cease to even hear the way they sound. They forget it is even wrong and shamelessly bulldoze those around them to the ground with their words.
We cannot grow, when we are meddling in the personal lives of others. When we are focusing on the sins of those around us, our own character stays unchecked, and we lack any motivation to change ourselves.
When my children are around you, I wish to cover their ears so they may not hear the verbal vomit that comes out. They are in shock, you know, when they hear the way you speak. Their little fresh minds are taking everything in, and your words are shaping their opinions of the people you speak of.
So this is my plea, to you whom I love: Please end the gossip. Be grieved by it! Be disgusted by the way it sounds when it rolls off your tongue. Feel the pain of those who are affected by it. And then repent – with tears and regret!
Finally, care enough to change.
I don’t have any threats that aren’t self-fulfilled consequences of gossip. I most certainly will not open up if I do not trust you. I most certainly won’t join in, so our conversations will be short and awkward. I may try to change the subject or suggest a solution. Or maybe, I will one day find the courage to interrupt your rantings about others and ask you to your face if what you’re sharing about them is loving.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not true, it is not self-seeking, it is not equal easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Oh to build up those around us! That is my heart’s desire! And often, how miserably I fail! How often I speak before I think! How often I hear the slander of others within my own thoughts, and how sick I feel when I hear it on my own tongue.
If ceasing to gossip leaves me with nothing else to say, then so be it; silence is more peaceful anyways!
Dear, dear loved one, who gossips: Please, change. If not for your own sake then for mine, for I am so weak, and may very well stumble in your company. Please think of my children, who right now speak mostly well of others. Think about the many innocent victims this crime brings to the ground.
May your relationships grow stronger, deeper as you learn to keep hurtful words away from your mouth. May your conversations become fruitful and life-giving. May they be seasoned with the joy and love of the Father. May they become uplifting and full of goodness. And as you begin to trust yourself, you will begin to once again believe the best in those around you. You will be able to see them as our Father in Heaven sees them, with fresh, new eyes.
If you felt this speaking to you at all, now is the time to change, dear friend.
A Woman Learning to Speak Life