Gossip: juicy as a watermelon, sour as a lemon.
I will be the first to admit that I get caught up in gossip really easily. With all of the couples springing up around this time of year, I remember walking into my room one night and saying to my roommate, “Roommate! I have new gossip to share!”
No, seriously. Those were my exact words.
What was I thinking? Well, like most days, I probably wasn’t.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, to gossip is “to talk idly, mostly about other people’s affairs; to go about tattling.”
I like this definition, but I also turned to people in my life whom I have found to be wise. I asked my mom, my pastor’s wife, other family members and peers from Corban.
A few of their answers, in no particular order, are as follows:
“Talking bad about someone behind their back.”
“Telling someone something that: A – is not your story to tell, B – you wouldn’t say to the person’s face, or C – does not edify the hearer, the teller or the subject.”
“Unnecessary negative talk about another person.”
“Pridefully speaking negatively about a person with malicious intent.”
“Telling other people’s business without their permission. Often with malicious intent.”
“Somebody sharing someone else’s situation or story for the sole purpose of getting a reaction out of others.”
“Spreading information that isn’t yours to spread; often with a negative connotation; bad mouthing people.”
Based on many of these definitions, telling my roommate about the newest couple in PVG might not be considered gossip, despite me calling it that. I wasn’t bad mouthing the people. In fact, I was quite excited for them! But it wasn’t my news to tell.
We also must ask, where is the line between ranting/venting healthily and creating an atmosphere of gossip?
If I have had a bad day and someone did something to offend or upset me, should I keep it to myself? Personally, I am a total verbal processor. Even if nobody is listening, I have to vocalize my thoughts.
But in telling a close friend about my frustrations, I must be aware of my own intent. Many nights I will tell my roommate the frustrations of the day. She is a helpful individual who allows me to process and helps guide me to a healthy conclusion. Basically, she gives me another perspective as to how to look at the situation.
Imagine I told her this “awful” thing someone did to me. I think it would only be gossip if I was attacking their character and not their actions. If my sharing of the news made her think negatively about the person because of a character issue, I was gossiping about the person.
All too often I find myself making judgments about people based on their actions and then share my new thoughts about that person with others, instead of solely sharing the actions with people I trust to process what happened.
More than that, if I don’t agree with the person’s actions, shouldn’t I just go directly to the person?
We’ll leave that for another day.
Gossip is much like watermelons and lemons: juicy, sour and full of seeds.
Everything we say is a seed. Think about it. Each of my words are a little seed that I am planting in your brain. You have the choice to allow that seed to grow, but it was still a seed that was planted.
Seeds are helpful. Without them, plants could not reproduce. But when are eating a nice, juicy slice of watermelon, we are quick to spit out the “bad” black seeds but have no issue consuming the others. Why? Because a watermelon will grow in our stomachs if we don’t! Just kidding.
Rather, because we were taught that one seed is fine to consume (perhaps even nutritious), the other isn’t.
I encourage you to join me on a journey of learning to consume the seeds that aren’t harmful and to spit out the ones that harm us.