Our Bishop told the ladies this week that there are several women who have come to him in tears because of gossip spread about them by members in our ward. That statement both surprised me and cut right through me. I don't know of anyone who can hear a lesson like that and not feel at least a twinge of discomfort.
I have never talked about another person with the intent to hurt or spread rumors. I can't imagine taking a secret and sharing it with others, laughing at the distortion that results from being passed around. I've never said something with the hopes that it would get back to the original subject and cause damage.
In fact, I don't think that most people have. No, I think that most of the gossip we spread is the more garden variety but just as hurtful in the long run. Most of it is done out of boredom. If we have time to idly judge people's performance, values, clothes, opinions, or hair care products then we should probably make time to invest in a mirror for some self-reflection. Mother Teresa said, "If you judge people, you have no time to love them." Isn't that true? It is so much easier to point out the faults of others (especially if we have an appreciative audience) than to work on ourselves. I would much rather talk about what's wrong with you than what's wrong with me.
I know when I have spoken poorly about others or spread the latest news--I've felt good for a moment. Even superior! Who doesn't like to hold the power? There's an illusive momentary leveling that takes place--once I knock someone down a peg I move up. Or once I share the big story I'm more important than I was just a moment before. It can be an addictive cycle. But the feeling passes and there have been times I've actually felt the stabbing pain of the Holy Ghost telling me to stop. That's a sadly humbling experience.
A yardstick for measuring what to say might be "Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?" And even then it just may not be any of my business. (Which is where I get sucked in, because I feel like the world is my business.)
Whenever I go to the salon my stylist Patty hands me a stack of magazines to look through--OK, People, US Weekly--gossip rags which don't appeal to me, until I open the pages.
Oh my gosh. She definitely wore it better.
Wait, who is she seeing? I thought she was married!
That girl needs make up--every day. She shouldn't be seen in public like that.
Pretty soon I feel like my opinion is welcome and expected. And if I can and should judge celebrities for what they do, is it really that bad to tell my friend about this other friend's mom's neighbor who once did that crazy thing?
I love what Sister Osborne said when someone comes to her with gossip:
"Oh, I just love that person! I can't imagine that she would have done
that. I should go ask her about it." She said that has people scrambling
and backpedaling in a hurry!
I am glad we had that lesson even though it was hard to hear. I realized I have a lot of room for improvement. I love people--their quirks, their flaws, their motives, and their opinions. My verbal musings and analyses are insightful--just ask me. Haha. Just kidding, don't because that would be gossip. However, I am grateful to have an outlet in my husband because if I didn't share I would explode.
Have you read this quote lately? It's Eleanor Roosevelt's searing insight: "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."
I am working on moving on up.