When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. – James 3:3-6
We have one, I bet you do too, a neighborhood gossip. Ours seemingly knows everything about everybody, who is cheating on who, whose kids got busted for this or that, who is getting a divorce, who is going to rehab, blah, blah, blah, blah.
In our case the neighborhood gossip is a women, but please, this is no stereotype, one of my male friends is his neighborhoods gossip. Ours is a women who I have very little respect for, she loves discovering and sharing the misery of others. Her life is not perfect which is why she shares the flaws of everyone else’s life, to offset and misdirect others about her own inadequacies of which she has many.
My family has been the subject of her tongue wagging on a couple of occasions. Nothing particularly mean or malicious, just not right and most importantly, none of her damn business. What is fascinating to me is that no one ever calls her out on it. I deal with her by ignoring her. If I see her at the store or at a social event I don’t acknowledge her existence. This may seem mean or cruel but it keeps me from opening my mouth and sharing an opinion best unsaid and one my family would have to pay for. My wife, the lovely soul that she is, has a certain amount of pity for her explaining that this women can’t help herself, she is insecure and that this is her way of getting recognition. I wasn’t aware that my bride had a degree in psychology and as any smart husband would do, I keep that thought to myself as well.
I ran into a lady at the store recently, someone I go to church with and have known for twenty years. Her kids are a year or two behind mine but old enough to have traveled in some of the same sports circles. I asked her how her daughter was doing and heard about all of her proud accomplishments. Then I asked her about her son and she responded, almost angrily, “You don’t know? It seems like everyone knows.” I assured her I didn’t know anything about her son and honestly didn’t need to know unless she wanted to share it with me. I could she in her eyes that she was hurting and I gave her a hug.
When I got home I shared this exchange with my wife. She knew what was going on with this lady’s son. She had heard it from another person who had heard it from, you guessed it. It was a private matter, a source of pain and concern for this mother and sadly it was a topic of conversation in the check-out aisle at our local grocery store.
The local gossip has been around for centuries and a new batch is being born everyday. I certainly don’t see social media as helping the cause, it just makes the fire burn brighter and faster. I am thankful my wife and kids don’t play the game. There are already too many players.
Words hurt, words sting, and words break, but words can also comfort, soothe and support. Which words will you chose?