I wrote this post in August of last year, but thought it was time to bring it up again. Gossip not only effects those who it's about, or those who say it...but those who have to hear it. The update at the bottom was from last year as well. Are you confronted with gossip? Where? And how do you deal with it?
Top Places to Gossip:
Can these places be avoided? Mostly, yes. Should they? Absolutely not!
Work: If you work outside of the home, you know well enough that the best place to find gossip is at the work place. So what do you do when you find yourself around gossip? A friend of mine told me about a co-worker she worked with years ago who would leave the breakroom if gossip came up. What a great example! It was VERY convicting to my friend who witnessed this. Gossip can be avoided by watching out for the areas where it takes place, and the people who start it. This may mean that you have your morning break by yourself, or pass up the copy machine when there is a line of gossipers waiting.
School: When I was a freshman in college, I had an hour break between my afternoon classes. Instead of studying or doing homework, my friend and I would watch everyone. We would pick out people, some we knew and some we didn't, and talk about them. We did not necessarily talk bad talk, but just wasteful chat, like how cute someone was, or how someones skirt was a little too....almost not there.
A lot of time was spent wasted by concerning myself with other people. The following semesters I spent in the library by myself, or running errands around town. Idleness is a quick route to gossip, it was for me.
Home: Gossip happens A LOT at home. If you don't think that it happens in your home....pay careful attention. I know that I often have this notion that home is the "okay" place to gossip, after all....it's just my family I am talking to. I cannot allow my attitudes towards someone else affect the way that my family sees that person. How hard is that? VERY! We want to trust our family with our secrets and the things we share about others, but it can be very dangerous. I have allowed members of my family to affect my feelings about others...even though I got along with the person just fine.
Church: Eek! When I was a child I had the idea that if you were going to lie, just make sure it wasn't in church, even though it was wrong, PERIOD! Same with gossip, if you're going to talk bad about someone, just don't do it in the church, it makes God unhappy. However, suddenly, gossip in church crept up on me. Back in the day, when I was little, I thought that every lady in the church was sweet and the best Christian women you could find. Then I got older and learned more about others via gossip. I can never look at the same women with the admiration I had had before, even though they had done nothing to me to make me feel differently.
Gossip taking place in church can soon seem "needful". Everything that is said on the church grounds seems safe....add the word "prayer" and suddenly telling everyone that you saw Mike talking to another woman really does not seem like gossip, but like a prayer request. Hmmmm.....
UPDATE: How many times do you unintentionally make a comment and suddenly, you're talking about somebody? Whew....I did that today. I offhandedly brought up a silly remark and words begin to fly from my co-workers...and me. I quickly put it back to rest. This reminded me of a fire that is dwindling done to tiny glowing ashes, then throwing dry straw on it, and suddenly you have a raging fire. This is the way gossip is.
The Lord showed me today the effects on my little remarks, and how they can fuel a fire. I also put into practice not allowing being alone with someone as this could open a window to gossip. If gossip starts, it should be turned quickly around. One thing to help, say, "I got to go to the restroom!" Maybe the person will forget what they were saying. Baby steps..... hehe!