Monday, November 14, 2005

"Did I Just Say that?" Part 2: Is this really any of my business?

"Did you know that Tamera's husband slept with Pastor Jake's wife?," Carol asked a bewildered Tanya. Tanya looked at Carol in total shock; she'd just had breakfast with the pastor's family the month before. She pictured their beautiful children, the family portrait she'd seen as she entered the pastor's home, and the lovely way that family seemed to her. At the first moment, she was completely in shock. That soon gave way to anger. How dare they!!! What hypocrites!!! Tanya was infuriated that the pastor's wife, of all people, would do this to anyone. "Carol, I should've seen it. When I was at the pastor's house just last month, those two didn't so much as hold hands. They didn't even sit near each other; as a matter of fact, I don't think they had much to say the whole evening. And they think we're all messed up. Look at them!" By the end of the day, more people in the church were talking about Tamera's husband and the pastor's wife.
The truth is, Tamera's husband did sleep with someone else's wife, but it wasn't the pastor's. The women in the church who'd started the gossip were found out. It turned out that Carol's sister had first told her about Tamera's husband. Carol, having been a friend of Tamera, immediately assumed it was the pastor's wife. The reason? Only Carol knows. Carol felt she had a right to talk about Tamera's misfortune with Tanya; afterall, Tanya and Carol had been friends with Tamera for years. But the truth is, she'd have been a better friend to be there for Tamera instead of gossiping about her heartbreak. She knew she'd not have talked about this event had Tamera been present. And had Tamera walked in on any of the conversations about her husband's unfaithfulness, she'd have been hurt beyond measure. This was no one's business afterall. Tamara did feel betrayed and before long, her friendship with Carol and Tanya had disintegrated to nothingness.
And what about the pastor's wife? She'd been hurt too. It took years to repair the damage this gossip caused to her private life both at home, in her friendships, in the community and at church. She was a beautiful woman and had a beautiful family, but when others looked her way, she couldn't help but wonder if they were thinking horrid thoughts about her. And why her? What had she done? She never knew why someone she'd once trusted had jumped to such an outrageous conclusion as the one Carol had.
Gossip hurts this way. From childhood through adulthood, gossip. "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" Yeah right! Often words hurt more than sticks and stones because they cut to the heart. And gossip, I believe is often more hurtful than random insults because it spreads like a cancer.
Personally, I struggle with butting my nose in where it doesn't belong. It's easy to be presumptuous to believe that it's my place to discuss my sibling's misfortune or bad choices with another relative. We're family afterall... Truth is, I want to be the kind of person who minds my own business. I don't like it when someone talks about my failures, my misfortunes, my heartbreaks with others. It's my business. A genuinely concerned person will approach the person directly about whatever the issues are instead of making it the topic of upcoming conversations with outsiders.
So, I'm going to be practicing minding my own business and I hope that you're encouraged to do the same. When I hear something scathing about someone, I'm going to train my mind to weigh whether or not I should indulge in the conversation or steer it in a different direction.


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