Gossip or Guidance?

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29

When I was a young Airman, I had a supervisor tell me that I was the type of person who thrived on chaos and created drama.  That statement hurt me to my core and allowed me to have some self-reflection time about the type of woman I wanted to be known as.  And guess what? I decided I didn’t want to be known as someone who was involved with chaos, drama, turmoil…and gossip.

Gossip is such an uncomfortable topic.  It’s uncomfortable because so many of us fall into the gossip trap at some point in our lives.  There are varying levels of gossip…the seemingly innocent gossip…the outrageous made-up gossip…and even the justifiable gossip cloaked in truth. There are different players in the game of gossip.  There is the initiator, the contributor, the facilitator, and even the victim.  I know that I have been involved in each of the roles and if I’m honest, in each of the levels of gossip too.

Erin and I were recently talking about the fabric of our friendship and how we’ve never had a fight.  We’ve never gossiped about each other.  We hold each other accountable.  We disagree with one another. Heck we have even disliked decisions that the other made, but we have never fought. Why? I believe there are several reasons.  Our friendship is built on trust. It’s built on respect. It’s built on love. And it’s a friendship that is built on Christ.

What would happen to us, as Christian women, if all our relationships were built on trust, respect, love and Christ?  What if we treated all of our relationships as ones without chaos, without drama, without gossip?

Would we be happier people? Would we accomplish more? Would we reflect Christ’s love for all of His people?

Obviously, you can’t know if all your relationships are built on mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual love, or mutual relationship with God.  But you can know if you will exhibit these traits.

Let’s go back to gossip.  Women typically love to talk. And we love to talk about each other.  We are a catty group of humans.  It does not matter what label you put on yourself, women are at fault for talking about each other.  Christian women too.  Ours however, may be more dangerous gossip than that of the non-believer.  Why?  Well, we mask our gossip as “venting” or worse as “seeking council” from other Christian women.

Please know this, I believe we need to seek wise council.  Occasionally, we need to vent.  If we keep our thoughts, dreams, and prayers to ourselves then we are unable to be held accountable by other Christians.  The distinction between wise council seeking and gossip is when you make the decision about whether or not the conversation will make its way back to the subject.

Let’s imagine you take a topic to someone you trust and respect…simply to vent or to get guidance.

If you talk about someone and never intend to bring it to him or her, then it could be gossip.

If you talk about someone and intend to bring it to him or her after seeking council, then it may not be gossip…it may truly be seeking guidance.

“Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.” – Psalm 101:5

Let’s flip the script now.  Let’s imagine that someone is coming to you for a venting session or because they are seeking your guidance.

If you aren’t sending them to speak with the individual to resolve the situation, then your guidance is not holy…it is likely part of the gossip.

If you join in the venting session because you’ve been hurt by the individual, then you are contributing to the gossip.

If you ask them what their role is in the scenario, or if you ask them what they intend to say to the individual, or if you encourage them to speak to the person…then you are stopping the gossip. You are providing guidance.

“He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.” – Proverbs 11:13

There’s a fine line between gossip and guidance.  It’s a hard line to see, but it’s an easy one to cross.  Our flesh wants the confirmation that we have been wronged. We crave the vindication that we are right and that we are justified in the gossiping.  As humans, we desire someone else to come beside us and share our outrage at injustices…perceived or real.

But what would happen if we stopped the gossip?

What would happen if we started building our relationships on trust, respect, love and Christ?

If we stopped gossiping and replaced that with truth talk directly to the people involved, wouldn’t we start building trust, respect, love…and show how Christ would have functioned?

There are relationships that are toxic. Ones that eventually need to be severed. But for the average relationship, trust and respect are started with honesty.  Honesty can be sometimes harsh or sometimes softer, but should never be expressed in a deliberately hurtful manner.  Honest talk builds healthy relationships.

“He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, Therefore do not associate with a gossip.” – Proverbs 20:19

 Let’s band together as Christian women to refine one another. Together we can start to stop the gossip within our homes, our churches, and our workplaces. Let’s identify the flaws and press into the Lord with our desire to do better.

~Emily

“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”               – Psalm 141:3

 

 

 

 

The Yelling Mom

Turns out I’m a yelling mom.

After decades of praying for a child, I was blessed to become a step-mom and later adopt a little guy who is better known in my circles as PhD, Phat Dawgs, Phat Diggity, Bugga-so or Kambell.

Through all those decades of fertility treatments and adoption missteps, I had plenty of time to plot the kind of mother I was going to be when my chance came. I wanted to be a singing, cookie baking, wipe your tears, and tell a joke, type of mom. One who was firm in discipline, but quick with hugs and praise. I figured the older I got, the more likely I would be to make time for praying and playing. I would be patient and kind.

Over the holidays, my mother-in-law told me I yell too much. Across the land, all the ladies collectively sucked in their breath in solidarity with me….

I know, I know. My. Mother-In-Law. Told. Me. I. Yell. Too. Much.

Emily’s reaction?!?!?! ***Insert bad word here.***

Once I said my bad words, I thought about that assessment and I went to the Lord in prayer. I prayed for a calm spirit and a still tongue, for revelation of my sins, for guidance towards change. Immediately verses began to come to me.

“How many are my iniquities and sins? Make known to me my rebellion and my sin.” Job 13:23

“Let us examine and probe our ways…and let us return to the Lord.” Lamentation 3:40

“But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone and not in regard to another.” Galatians 6:4

It’s never easy hearing criticism about ourselves. It’s not any easier to assess that criticism in order to make ourselves our best self. While we are far from perfect, as Christians, we are called to walk with the perfect one, Jesus Christ. That walk would be incomplete without self-assessment.

Through prayer and reflection, I determined that I do yell often. I yell in praise and excitement. I yell in disappointment and discipline. I yell a lot. The question is how does that impact my kid? Does he care how much I yell? Am I influencing the adult he will become because of my yelling?

Turns out he loves my exuberance when yelling for home runs, perfectly in the line colored pages, and good grades. Also turns out, he does not like the discipline yelling. Not because he thinks I yell too much, but because he’s disappointed in himself for getting in trouble.

I’m comfortable with my positive yelling. I’m not so comfortable with the screeching-disciple yelling. I’m going to do my best to change that yelling. Starting today…less yelling as a form of discipline.

Yelling was not part of my plan.

And yet. Here I am. The yelling mom.

~Emily

 

Word of the Year

Panic comes to me in many different forms. Not enough sleep before a big presentation-panic. Forgot to check my son’s homework-panic.   Didn’t stop to buy milk on the way home-panic. Best friend announces she’s chosen a word of the year-pure panic. She made the declaration with excitement and confidence. As with all adventures with this girl, I could not be more supportive of her having a word to focus on and move towards.

Despite my support of Erin having a word for 2018, my own panic was there. Bubbling on the surface. I saw people picking a word of the year on social media and my best friend just picked a word. Do I need a word? How do I pick a word? What do I do with that word? Am I letting Erin down by not having a word…or worse, not doing what I’m supposed to with a word?

In the midst of this panic, I simply asked God, ‘”am I supposed to have a word?” I didn’t ask if this was a seasonal gift for Erin, what my word was, what was the purpose of one word or even why one would need a word. I simply asked, “am I supposed to have a word?”

God has been radio silent on an answer.

In light of not receiving any big epiphany on having a word to represent me for 2018, I just keep going about my daily life. I continue to pray, to do laundry, text my mama, hug my son, and focus on all the words of my life without narrowing it to one.

While I wait, I realized that I have a ton of other things to focus on for 2018. This year I’m retiring from the Air Force after 24 years and I’m going to have to get a civilian job. Talk about a scary transition! This year also will celebrate the completion of my Doctorate Thesis. I joked with my husband that he’d have to call me “Dr. Emily” to which he said, “no.” Another change, another transition. Finally, Erin and I are sincerely focused on writing. This is a change….a commitment…a transition.

God is never truly radio silent.

Aimless thoughts and answered prayers go hand in hand. God gives us answers in the Bible, through others’ voices, and through quiet time with Him. He offers promises that soothe our panic. Since I was 8 years old, whenever I feel panic in any capacity, I automatically go to Isaiah 41:10 “Do not be afraid, for I am your God.” It’s the verse that has gotten me through all kinds of life transitions. It’s the one filled with hope. The verse that assures me that I will get through all my transitions this year.

…all my transitions this year.

Maybe “transition” should be my 2018 word.

~Emily