Thursday, October 27, 2011

Real and Juicy

Along to the lines of my previous post about being real and authentic and having honest relationships, you have to tackle the issue of gossip.

Recently this has come to me personally. I want to have real relationships. It's not worth the time or effort for this mama to invest in fluff. I don't have it in me!

But, as we open up and share what's really frustrating us, what we're struggling with, the questions that cause us to pause and reexamine every aspect of our life, we will often come to a point that it involves someone other than us.

So, when do you cross that line from "sharing" and being honest to being a gossip.

I believe firmly that gossip is a problem more than we admit. I think I cross the line too often. I hear gossip too often. And, I don't say the hard words "Stop! This isn't something I need to know or should be told." I mean, for real...my flesh wants to hear it! I want to know what happened with that person. I enjoy reading People magazine!

So, let me throw out a fake scenario. Then, you MUST comment so we can dialogue a little here. I don't have much content on this. I can throw you a Scripture, but let's talk dissection here. Break it down with me.

Scenario #1:
I'm friends with Roxy. Roxy and I get along well and spend time together frequently. We both have kids and they play well together, for the most part. One day I'm over at Susie's house. Susie begins to tell me that she's having trouble when she invites Roxy and her kids over for playdates because Roxy's kids aren't treating her kids well. {STOP. Should this conversation continue? Is it gossip?}

Scenario #2:
We're sitting out on my patio...several friends. One friend asks "What is Melinda doing with her hair these days?" (apparently it hasn't been looking like it normally does) {STOP. Should this conversation continue? Is is gossip to comment on her hair?}

Scenario #3:
Jane has told me about her oldest daughter from a previous marriage. She hasn't said much, but I know an older daughter exists. I'm not very close to Jane. Another friend, Mary, is close to Jane. I see on Facebook (because I'm "friends" with Jane) that something has happened with her daughter. I don't really feel comfortable asking Jane "hey, what's up with your daughter". After all, I don't really talk to Jane that often. So, I ask Mary, "What's going on with Jane's daughter? I saw on Facebook that something was up." {STOP. Should this conversation continue? Is it gossip? Jane has obviously shared something on a public forum.}

I'm being completely honest here when I say I want feedback. I have no answers ...well, I can give an answer but it will probably end with me saying "but...". I think there are some muddy waters. But, maybe it's because I'm immature. So, let's hear it!

13 comments:

  1. 1# You can ask Susie if she has raised the issue with Roxy. If she has You can ask her is she thinks your an elder in the church??? Since Roxy has been named yes its gossip. In the guise of looking for sympathy/commiseration. Since you experience these kids she expects you to have the same experiences she does. Shutting it down is a good idea at this point.

    #2 Hair? I would answer honestly since I rarely notice peoples hair. Something like "Is it important?? did she dye it blue and now has a Mohawk?" "no..." "Oh then what business is it of ours?" But then I'm noted for my serious lack of tact... You might not want to take my advice since this will create a pause, My Daughter would call Awkward.

    #3 public forum tough one... if your friend has intimate knowledge your opening a slippery slope for them to divulge more than they should. But since it's in a public place maybe coming at it obliquely. Write Jane an encouraging note directly, letting her know you care and leave it at that. At the heart of it you need to examine your motivation. I ask myself am I doing this because I care, or because I'm being a nosy parker? Tough questions.

    I find If the conversation is slipping into gossip I have been know to own up to my failing in public "hey I feel this is gossip I need to stop because it is a issue with me, could we talk about something else? How bout those Rangers." See above for how this creates a awkward pause so I again warn you about taking advice from one lacking in tact.

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  2. I think its all a matter of where your heart is. When you ask yourself, "Is God somehow glorified in this conversation?" Scenario #1 is dicey. It seems unlikely that the conversation would lead to anyone being supported or encouraged.Scenario #2 just seems catty and unkind.#3 is tricky. Is the intention to find out what happened so you know how to best support and reach out to the person?

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  3. I really think it's a heart issue. Some people share with a heart to be encouraging and they want wise and honest help... other times it is just pure comparing stuff that women deal with all the time. I truly think, if you feel weird about the conversation-then that is God saying this is gossip and it is our issue if we don't jump in and say... I can't talk about this with you. I think the more women who say "NO" to that kind of talk... the less it will happen at all.
    All that said, I often go to good friends to bounce something off them for their advice. I pray those women know I trust them to help me without disclosing information I want kept between us. It comes down to trusting HIM first, so we pick the true friends to share with from there.

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  4. Since I couldnt post the entire post I have to split it up...sorry :-(

    I just posted about my son needing surgery so hopefully it can fix his ongoing hearing loss. I am not looking for sympathy, just prayers. People who know us well, know about him and his hearing issues already. Those who dont know us well, can see what we are needing...prayer. BUT this is a hard topic. Because Most people will RARELY come out and say that they need help. People always offer it, but rarely does someone take you up on it.

    Gossip is a terrible thing. It damaged alot in my family when my ex and I split up. No one came to me and ever bothered to ask what REALLY happened. They listened to the gossip and made judgement against me and my kids. When in reality we were the victims. I held my tongue and my head high and chose to move forward in our lives and our relationships with GOD, just with a different church, where we weren't judged based on what OTHER people said about us. I clearly know I made a mistake in part of my decisions, but that is between God and myself. We all make mistakes and all have sinned, however, we are not to judge other people, as HE is the final judge. None of my "friends" ever asked me why? If I had told them the truth, I am pretty confident they would have had a different opinion.

    GOSSIP....It is a hard lesson I am trying to teach one of my daughters who gets completely consumed by all of the boy/girl he said/she said drama in school. It has had a negative impact on her academics because it takes up so much of her energy trying to help these friends who are always quick to back stab each other. I had to just tell her to hold her hand up and say I love you BUT I cant get involved in all of that any more, it is not good for me at all.

    WHen my children came to live with me one of them actually had scabies from the environment she had been in. I worked with the mother of one of her new friends. This mother chose to discuss this information in front of her daughter ( a BIG no no at our type of position...ALL is to remain confidential about these children) Well this child went to school and spread it all over, and all of the other kids shunned her like she was a leper. That finally subsided over time. However, when these two were in middle school, that other girl got mad at my daughter for some silly boy/girl drama and spread that same rumor once again, thereby damaging all of my daughters friendships with all of her now grossed out friends. Gossip is hard not to listen to, but for some reason we as humans also tend to believe it all. And thats when the damage is done . I try hard to make a practice of ( as I always put it) going straight to the source :-) I go to that person and simply say ...you may want or need to know that this information about you is being said. My problem is..IS THAT GOSSIPING??? I would want to know if other people were saying hurtful things about me or my children, especially when it is not the reality.

    So any scripture you can share with me, to share with her, would be EXTREMELY appreciated.

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  5. I dont know where the first part of my post went?

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  6. Good thought to ponder my friend!
    I think gossip is a quick way to "connect" with other women. It takes the pressure off having to be real about ourselves especially in those new friendships it can fill the gap in conversation that can happen.That being said it is wrong,hurtful,shallow,destructive,and usually self promoting.
    Here's what I think of each scenario.
    #1 I would start off by saying "Roxy is my friend too, Im sorry your having trouble when you get together with the kids. I would go to her and have that conversation because you dont want it to continue and until she knows how you feel it won't get addressed or remedied and your friendship may suffer" end convo
    #2 Gossip...clearly not a conversation worth anybodies time. Who has time to discuss anyone else's hair,face,clothes,weight etc.... not uplifting at all.
    #3 Oh the evil's of facebook. It makes it so easy to peek into each others lives without having to invest. Don't take the easy way out. Take the opportunity to go to Jane and ask, if your motive is concern then a personal inquiry could be the thing that bridges the gap from acquaintance to friend. If it's only your flesh that wants to know because it is vaguely out there in facebookland then you want the gossip and not the relationship. Same goes for when we are approached for information about others.

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  7. That being said, there are times in our relationships where you do go deeper and it may involve others. Things happen that shape us and our views or way we deal with relationships. I think if the holder of the information is careful about how it is given out and uses discernment then it would not be considered gossip but maturity has a huge part in where the line is.

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  8. I love this post, Megan. It hits exactly where I am at sometimes--where we as women are ALL at sometimes :)
    #1- I agree that it's a heart issue (are they looking for advice/help or allies?) If it's advice, then turning her back in the direction of talking to Roxy would be good...I know others above have suggested these things.
    #2- Can't imagine how it would be edifying on any level, but that's the tough thing--I also know you don't really say, "That's not edifying" in a conversation unless you want to shut down communication completely or unless you are REALLY close friends. Assuming that we are more casual friends, I think I would go more along the lines of just saying, "nope, I haven't noticed. I think she always looks pretty" and changing the subject. Aaron and I have been discussing this a lot because I have been spending time with women in our neighborhood making friends, and a group of women who aren't believers talk about this kind of stuff ALOT. We've been discussing how to set myself apart from it without completely alienating the people I'm trying to reach out to. It's a tough one :)
    #3--Love what someone said above...go to the source. Ask Jane about it--not because asking another person "Is she ok?" (in a heart of concern) would necessarily be gossip, but because we don't build relationships through a third party. If you're concerned for Jane, let her see that you are. Likewise, if you ask/hear from someone that she isn't ok, then go to Jane rather than skulking third parties for info and saying nothing.
    I think for me, mostly, there are a few select relationships (Aaron, my parents, etc), where I would feel free to unleash my emotions and thoughts on issues, and know that I'm going to get honest feedback from them AND that they will 1. not allow me to just vent and complain 2. they are people who are able to help me think through my stuff without their opinion of the other person changing and 3. they will go to God with me and for me on the issues. In that context, I share frustrations and issues that I would not talk about with friends or other people. They are people who would not allow it to turn into a gossip fest, and we certainly wouldn't be talking about the state of someone's hair :)....and if there are only three or four people in my entire life I would put into this category, I'd say that's pretty few. :) This is not a "friend" category. I think Pheobie said it well just above me :)

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  9. P.S. and I love what you said about our flesh wanting to hear. It's true! All three of these scenarios could be totally different depending on whether our flesh is just out for a juicy scoop (about another person, about hair, about a juicy story). Thanks for being transparent...I admit, my flesh likes to read People magazine too! :)

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  10. Great post...appreciate your heart for wanting to do what is right but still loving your friends. I recently endured a 'crisis' of sorts and found out shortly after that my situation was discussed in many circles of friends in our church. It broke my heart, and then I heard all sorts of rumors and conflicting stories...and none of my 'friends' even came to me to ask me what happened. I think as women we want to connect with each other, but it's a fine line. And when you are desperately trying to connect with one friend, you may be crushing another at the same time. Good thoughts Megan!

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  11. Thank you all so much for your thoughts!

    Just so you know, those are completely made up scenarios. I love your responses, however, because I think those "fake" situations are ones we could all completely relate to. It might not be young kids, it might be older, as one person commented her daughter going through. It might not be the person's hair, it might be their weight or the clothes they wear.

    I love how many of you talk about the heart. I'll probably just write a post of "my thoughts" in response (since it is my blog). ha!

    I especially like the point that many of you made about trying so hard to connect that you say things you shouldn't. Wow! I think that in and of itself is very powerful to say out loud. We are so desperate to be approved or have a connection that we are willing to say hurtful things about another.

    I think just discussing the subject of gossip might help me be more aware of it and more willing to say "stop" when I think a conversation is going too far in that direction.

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  12. I don't think anyone thinks you are passive aggresive to post something specific to a situation you are in now :) . But great examples that we face more often that Im sure we realize.

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  13. Can't wait for the response post, Megan...I don't think anyone thought that you were posting about real situations (I didn't, even thought my response didn't clearly say that...sorry!), and I'm excited to hear your thoughts on the issue in general :)

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