|Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.|
Very recently I became a victim of gossip. On a day intended for celebration and happiness, I instead spent much of the evening in tears, swinging back and forth between sadness and anger. The short version is:
Someone took something I said out of context - it was misinterpreted as being disrespectful and malicious. Instead of coming to me to express their concerns, this person instead chose to share their misinterpretations/assumptions with someone else, who then shared with someone else, who decided to confront me. The confronter at this point had already bought into the validity of what was gossiped, and shared that she was deeply hurt and offended.
I was shocked and speechless when I learned what had transpired. I am not a mean person. I am caring and trusting to a fault. The very last things I would do are the things I was being accused of. After explaining the details of the situation and assuring my confronter that no disrespect or maliciousness had ever been intended, I went into character-preservation mode. Over the next couple of days I messaged the original gossiper repeatedly - explaining myself, the circumstances, and how wrong she was to have not come to me in the first place. I wanted her to know that she made me cry, and ruined an otherwise perfect day. Basically, I wanted her to know that she was wrong and I was right. I received an initial accusatory response, but nothing else to my my additional pleas for understanding and acknowledgement of her wrong-doing.
I'll be honest - I hate when people don't like me. It's not because I think I am this wonderfully awesome person with whom everyone should be so blessed to have as a part their lives. When someone doesn't like me, I take it very, very personally. I convince myself that there must be something terribly wrong with me, that I must be completely unlikeable to all people on some level, and that I am worthless/useless/pointless - yeah, it's ugly. But in the above situation, I knew that I was not guilty of what I was being accused of. This knowledge became the fuel for my self-righteousness. I was like a dog on a bone, and did not want to let go. The more I received "silence" as a response, the more I wanted to lash back out at my accuser.
Just this morning though, God stopped me in my tracks. What has been dancing around in the back of my mind over the last few days God decided to shine a bright light on, to make sure it was abundantly clear to me. It's short, sweet and simple, yet so hard to accept - God knows my heart. That's all, and that's everything. I have said and done what I can, but at some point (like, now!) I need to stop, and give it to God. Spiritually I know I need to do this, but my pride wants closure. My pride wants ownership and acknowledgement from the accuser of her wrong-doing. As I type, God is showing me that while my initial responses to my accuser were possibly warranted (and confrontation is OK when done in a God-honoring way), at some point my responses became maliciously-motivated. I want(ed) her to feel badly...to feel the sting of hurt feelings. As someone who is trying daily (and failing regularly) to represent Jesus' love, it is clear that what is currently in my heart is not representative of someone trying to live like that.
Fortunately and graciously I am human and God knows it. As life has proven time and again, when left to our own devices, we usually don't wind up in the best places - literally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. God knows this, which is why He sent His Son to die for us. He wants us to seek Him for everything. To seek Him prayerfully for wisdom and guidance. It is so very clear to me now that I have a few things to do:
1) Give ALL OF THIS to HIM. To let go, and let God.
2) Forgive my accuser. She isn't perfect but none of us is! Just as God has forgiven me the sin of a self-righteous heart, He will also forgive her sins, if and when she brings them to Him.
3) Pray for my accuser. Pray that over time she understands the hurt and collateral damage that can be caused when making the decision to engage in gossip. Pray that she would seek to honor God in her future actions and words.
My last response to my accuser was written with love, and was apologetic for the intensity/harshness of my previous messages. From here, I am giving it to God. I once saw a quote that read, "holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die". Not the prettiest of quotes, but certainly holds a message that each of us can learn from at some point in our lives. And if I allow my heart to fill up with God's love and grace, then there will be no room for the ugly.
At one time or another, perhaps without even realizing it, we have all been a victim of gossip. Whether you've also been a victim and are hurting because of it, or have participated in gossip recently and didn't think about the kind of collateral damage it could cause, I hope you can learn from what I've shared today.
Love and God Bless,
~One Shameless Mama