Today's topic is God in Friendships. It's cool how God works - this topic is pretty close to both Itunu and I right now, so we felt like it was the perfect thing to post about this week. On my end, I'm currently trying to change the way I communicate with and about my friends. As in, I'm trying not to gossip at all during the month of September. My friend Allison wrote a great post about it here.
Today's September 7th (hooray for writing posts ahead of time!), which means that I've been trying not to gossip for a week. You guys, it is so, so hard. Gossiping feels good. It's such a guilty pleasure thing for that reason - it's easy to do, and for whatever reason, brings instant gratification. It's universal, too. Almost everyone you meet will be willing to engage in gossip with you, and so we often use it to relate to each other. (Isn't that so wrong? Talking badly about one person to become closer to another?) Despite how low-down and dirty it is, you'll most likely be hard pressed to find someone who will ridicule you for gossiping. All this I've learned in my last week of attempted not gossip, and it left me with a question. If gossip is easy, safe, and feels good, how in the world am I supposed to stop?
My mom's a really good advice-giver, and something that she's really stressed to me through years of struggles in various areas is that truth will always improve a situation. "Just speak truth," she says. I think she's right. The Bible compares truth to light, exposing evil deeds. (John 3:21) Let's see if we can't shed some light on gossip, then, and expose how ugly it is. Ready?
Truth: Gossip hurts friendships, whether your friend knows that you're gossiping about them or not.
Strange, isn't it? I used to think that gossip only had consequences only if my friend found out what I'd said. So not true. Who here can identify with the feelings of resentment that are stirred up every time you repeat derogatory words about your friend? Even if she never knows, you've driven a wedge between the two of you just by dwelling on whatever you have against her. In addition, gossip hurts your relationship with the person you're gossiping to. I don't know about you, but I'm not about to have a heart-to-heart with the girl who just told me her friend's dirty little secret, you know? Trust is a hard thing to build, and words of gossip will pound against it until it crumbles.
Truth: Gossip is lazy.
It's true. Gossip is the verbal equivalent of choosing potato chips over veggies or reading a trashy romance novel instead of a classic or running two miles instead of five. It's what we do when we don't care enough to try. Talking about someone else's decisions doesn't require original thought or even the effort of acquiring solid information. As long as it's interesting, it's fine. It's the lowest-quality form of relating to the people around us.
Truth: Gossip isn't usually true.
As Justin Timberlake alledgedly said, "Gossip is called gossip because it's not always to truth." Is he right, or is he right? How many times have you and your friends speculated about a a story until it became an event made of one hundred per cent speculations, zero per cent fact? I know I'm guilty of this one. We don't have anyone checking to make sure our sources are reliable, and so we invent away until we get the story how we like it. At this point, we're not just sharing our friends' secrets - we're lying about them.
Truth: Gossip is incredibly selfish.
Obviously. Gossip never, ever helps anyone. I use gossip to fill awkward silences, to entertain myself, to attempt to gain some self-esteem. I never gossip with someone else's best interests at hear - it's impossible! And because it's selfish, gossip contradicts with what's at the very core of true, Godly friendship: love for the other person. Our goals where our friends are concerned should be to build them up. To enrich them. To make them feel good about themselves. To keep their good reputation standing. You and I cannot gossip and have healthy friendships. It's not possible.
As I'm writing this, I think that the best way to break my gossipy habits might be to do the opposite of gossiping. Say quality, truthful words. Constantly work to build my friends up. Seek to say everything that is true and nothing that is not. If I'm living that way, there'll be no room left for gossip! A logical impossibility.
If you're reading this, (and I assume that you are), I challenge you to do the same thing. Be Godly in your relationships by refusing to gossip. A world where no one says a word behind their friend's back - doesn't that sound great?//
Hop over to Itunu's blog to check out her post about withstanding peer pressure in friendships! Next week, we'll be talking about how the entertainment we surround ourselves with fits into a Godly lifestyle. It's going to be a good one!