"This Doesn't Leave This Table ..."
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9
I couldn't have asked for a better opening. The moment was ripe and ready for picking like a plump piece of fruit hanging low on a tree branch. I just had to reach up and take it. It hung in the air like a soft lob in tennis waiting for the downward slice of my racket.
Sitting outside under the green umbrella at Starbucks she asked, "Did you hear about....?" Of course I had heard and I was dying to "talk" about it, but I just hadn't been given the opportunity to do so-yet. I was dying to share my portion of the gossip buffet. I had one more nugget of "truth" to add to the growing pile already sitting on the table in front of me. The opportunity to pass on information I had heard at work, or church, or in the parent pick up line was too juicy to pass up. To share what I knew about the latest shake up in my circle of friends, co-workers, neighbors and acquaintances was something burning within me, dying to get out.
I wish I could say my motives in passing on information were altruistic, but truthfully the reasons were usually much less noble. My past relationships had taught me that new, not well known, inside information was the super highway of access to the inner circle of women and the means to temporary acceptance. My nugget of information gave me the undivided attention of those around me and in that brief moment I was noticed and special. Shamefully, I have given into the temptation to talk about someone else or to share the inside scoop on a sticky situation, just for the fleeting feeling I get from being the center of attention in that moment. Sharing can make me popular. It can also help me find allies in my private disagreements as I vent my frustrations instead of seeking face to face honest conversations with those who have hurt me.
Information that is not meant to be shared is gossip and God hates it. He hates it because it divides. It separates friends. It hurts. It infects. Gossip is a virus that seeps into relationships and organizations and destroys them. It twists and morphs into things beyond the truth of its original shape and size. Intentionally or not, when I share what is meant to be kept within certain borders, I contribute in the spreading of a disease that is difficult to cure and leaves lingering symptoms in its wake.
Proverbs 17:9 states "Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends." These verses tell me that what I say matters. Who I say it to matters as well. I am responsible for the words that exit my mouth. By keeping offenses behind the closed doors of my mouth and heart, I protect those around me from feelings that are not meant to be experienced by them and I offer silent grace to the offenders.
So the next time I am offered up that soft lob to share something I really shouldn't, I am going to pause before speaking. And, if I have to say "this doesn't leave this table" what I was going to say, doesn't leave my mouth. The cure for gossip has to start with me. Oh my, it is not easy...
Guard our mouths. Keep us from saying things that are meant to be kept private. Convict me when I talk too much. Let the truth of your word seep deep within me. "Where there are many words, transgression is unavoidable."
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.