A Little Gossip Goes a Long Way

24 01 2008

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Copyright 2008 Kelsey Hough.  All Rights Reserved.

I’d only been home for two days, but my answering machine was already cluttered with messages of “Call me back ASAP” from Jen.  Since her voice sounded more like a giggly girl at a slumber party than someone in the middle of a crisis, I wrote “Call Jen” on a sticky note and continued with my unpacking.  I’d call her after I’d run a load of whites.

Apparently, she just couldn’t wait for me to dig my smelly socks out of the blue duffle bag and track down a bottle of bleach, because before the rinse cycle was underway, the phone rang.  She asked a few pleasantries — if the airplane food was as gross as normal, whether I’d enjoyed the conference — before cutting to the chase.

“So?” said the enthusiastic voice on the other end of the line. “Tell me about him!”

I mentally flipped through files of friends and acquaintances trying to decipher who the elusive him was before finally just asking what on earth she was talking about.

“Oh, you know who I mean, Kelsey.” She obviously thought I was being coy.

I wondered if she’d confused my life with someone else’s, perhaps someone from one of those soap operas I pride myself on never watching.  Or maybe it was a side effect from a Pride and Prejudice overdose.  Who knows?

“There isn’t any guy to tell you about,” I said.

The last him of any interest whatsoever had been a fellow I’d met briefly while at the conference, who I’d never mentioned to Jen because it wasn’t worth mentioning.  After all, we hadn’t even swapped MySpaces, let alone phone numbers.

The Grapevine in Action

While I’d been gone, I’d briefly mentioned chatting with Conference Dude in a short email to a friend of mine who had happed to mention it to one of our mutual friends.  This gal then, I later discovered, told Jen I was dating someone I’d only just met.  And Jen immediately stretched the story in her own mind from dating to matrimony.  By the time I got home and was attempting to do my laundry in peace, the story had grown so much you’d have thought they’d drenched it with Miracle Grow; it wasn’t even recognizable as my life.

Jen — disappointed to discover there wasn’t going to be a summer wedding (or spring, fall or winter for that matter) — said with a sigh, “Oh, and I was looking forward to the wedding.”

It’s Not a Game

Gossip spreads like wildfire; even something as mundane as, “I talked with an interesting guy over coffee,” can easily turn into, “I’m getting married this summer to someone I only just met, and didn’t bother to tell you.”  As fast as the gossip chain I encountered moved, hurtful gossip moves at light speed in comparison.

With a single sentence a person’s entire reputation can be ripped to shreds beyond possible repair.  Because of this, the fact that the only temporary modification my own reputation underwent was that a few gossipy ladies, who didn’t have their facts straight, thought I bordered on being a bit reckless when it came to romance, it seems like I got off easy.

Thanks to the gossip chain, I almost ended up with a few extra toasters.  But usually gossip does a lot more damage than that.  Without anyone even intending any harm, gossip easily destroys lives, friendships and reputations, and at the very least, gossip confuses people and shares intimate details of other people’s lives without their permission.

“If anyone considers himself religious,” James says in his epistle, “and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)  Controlling our tongues and choosing not to gossip are not simply good manners, they’re even evidence our faith is genuine because we’re putting it into action.

Repeating gossip in any form is like messing around with a loaded gun aimed at someone else’s reputation, and it’s not something we should ever play around with.  It might tickle a child’s fancy to play with a loaded gun, but even if he never meant to hurt anyone, the simple act of playing with it can do unthinkable damage.

In the same way, if you play with gossip, someone else and their reputation will get hurt.

PracticalPurity@gmail.com Drop me a note if you’d like reprint permission.

Teptation, Compassion and Soggy Cereal

31 07 2007

Copyright 2007 Kelsey Hough.  All rights reserved.

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“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” ~Hebrews 4:15

I once had a Sunday school teacher try to explain this verse to a class I was in. We were all very young at the time, so the concept of a “high priest” was strange and not particularly interesting. If she’d been comparing Jesus to a Ninja Turtle or Mickey Mouse, we might have perked up, but it still would have been a challenge to keep our short attention spans engaged for long.

“Jesus came to die on the cross for our sins,” she said to the class “and He also came so that He’d know what it’s like to live here on earth, so that He’d know what it’s like to … to … eat cereal.”  God left heaven so He could eat breakfast cereal with a bunch of sinners? Since He’s God – the Creator and all – why didn’t He just make His own cereal? The only conclusions I could come up with, were either God had a fetish for Shredded Wheat, or my teacher was stranger than she looked.

Temptation is Tempting

“[He] was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”  Temptation is tempting; this may sound as deep as the bumper sticker on the back of your car, but when temptation comes knocking it’s hard to say no.  Because if you didn’t want it, there wouldn’t be a temptation.

When temptation hits, you may relate to Jesus, being offered all the kingdoms of the world, everything you want seems to be within your grasp, but then you realize who’s offering you this proposition, and you’ll be paying for it through the nose.  Do the ends justify the means?  The little man on your shoulder – in his cheesy devil costume – whispers something sly into your ear.  You want it so badly, and the thought of letting it go forever seems so horrible, but you take a deep breath, and say no to your little red pal.

I said no to the little man on my shoulder recently.  It was hard, as well as painful, and it honestly still is to a degree.  Letting go can hurt.  But despite this, I’ve gained something important — I’ve learned a little bit more about the beauty of compassion.

Compassion: A Beautiful Thing

It’s a wonderful thing that God not only understands the process of saying no to temptation, He also understands the pain and the heartache that is sometimes inevitable when you’re forced to say no to something you truly want.  The temptations and hardships Christ encountered while on earth extended far beyond a bowl of soggy cereal; He’s been offered the “easy way” out, He’s been tempted with everything He desired most, but He said no.  He doesn’t just know mentally that it would be difficult, He knows from firsthand experience; He’s felt the pain.

This — what my Sunday school teacher tried to present so many years ago – is truly amazing.  It’s amazing that God Almighty would be able to sympathize with sinners in their hour of need.  May we all seek to show the same level of compassion we’ve been shown, to others.

“DIVINE MASTER, grant that I my not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” -St. Francis of Assisi

PracticalPurity@gmail.com Drop me a note if you’d like reprint permission.