A troublemaker plants seeds of strife;
gossip separates the best of friends.
To read today’s portion of scripture, you can purchase The One Year Bible or find the following in your Bible:
1 Kings 5:1-6:38
”Have you heard?”
Oh, the power of those three words. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing when someone whispers them to you (and it’s always a whisper, or at least a healthy drop in decibels), your head spins toward the speaker and you latch your eyes, ears and full attention onto the possessor of the tidbit.
Another version is, “Did you hear about (fill in name here)?” Or “You’ll never guess what I just found out.” All of it portends a juicy morsel of gossip.
Like everyone else, I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of gossip. I’ve been ashamed of the things I’ve passed on, and I’ve been heartbroken when someone who held a grudge against me used that to put a wedge between another friend and me.
But once, I was the subject of a reverse sort of gossip, if that’s a thing. My phone rang, and it was my dear and, at the time, new friend, Sherri Youngward. She said, “I was just talking about you with someone, and your name came up. And I told her how easy it’s been to get to know you, and to feel like I’ve known you a very long time. And I thought, why keep that to myself? So I thought I’d tell you.”
Just like that. Reverse gossip. Or maybe new-and-improved gossip. When Sherri did that, it made me start thinking about what it would be like if I picked up the phone every time I was part of a conversation where good things were said about someone, and just let them know. And over the years, I’ve made a concerted effort to do that. It hasn’t always gone smoothly. I remember trying to tell one of our church youth guys about how his name had come up after one of their mission trips, and how we’d heard about how resourceful he was when they most needed him to be.
“Hey, Jeremy, its Shannon.”
“Shanon Woodward … your pastor’s wife.”
“Well, I … um … heard some nice things about you today, and I wanted to tell you.”
It pretty much went like that the entire three minutes it took to get it all out. I think he was more embarrassed than grateful. His mother, however, liked it a bunch when he told her.
But there have been many more times when I could see on a face or hear in their voice that the person I’m sharing that good gossip with really needed to hear it. It’s sobering when you realize how many people are walking around with an ache, or a doubt, or a great, overwhelming belief that they don’t matter.
And we walk right past, lost in our thoughts and our mouths full of unspoken words that could change all that, at least for a moment.