Sunday, September 25, 2011


I can't abide a gossip. Gossip is never harmless, even if the person repeating it thinks that it is. It's embarrassing to be gossiped about. I remember once, after my hair fell out during chemo, a local beauty salon offered free wig cuts as a service to cancer patients. I was uncertain about the wig, and how to wear it, and so I took advantage of that offer. The beautician was very nice, don't get me wrong, but as she was cutting my wig, the comb caught, tore the wig from my head. I sat there, exposed, as the other patrons of the salon stared at my bald head. It was mortifying. The beautician snatched my wig, and slapped it back on my head. I knew that she didn't mean to, and I knew that she felt badly, so I accepted her apology immediately, and tried to reassure her.

Much to my surprise, when I walked into church the following Sunday, an elderly lady who loves to talk, walked up to me and, laughingly told me that she'd heard about the incident, talked how badly the beautician felt. My fellow congregant seemed to have no idea that the incident was embarrassing, and spoke of it openly and for everyone to hear, and moreover, when she did not get a response from me, went on about the story at length. I was upset at the beautician, and made up my mind to never go back there again. I was also upset that the person repeating the story would do it so blatantly, and in church at that. I took a deep breath. I have heard this woman gossip before, and about others, and thought it was not nice, but at that point, being the person with the interesting life, being the subject of gossip, I made up my mind that I would never gossip. It's petty, it's hurtful, and it is also discussed quite plainly in the Bible. We are not to do it.

The church gossip met me on the steps this morning. She told me that she'd worked with my mother, that they'd shared a lot, how sorry she was, etc. She waited eagerly for me to speak. I thanked her for her condolences. This was not at all what she wanted to hear. She began to nose a little. You know, she's probably a nice enough woman. I don't imagine that she thinks she's at all malicious. I just can't abide that.

Yesterday at the funeral, a cousin came over, one that I haven't seen in years, truly. She said, "You know. I just want you to know that I haven't heard anything negative about you." I was completely aware that she'd spent a long time in the kitchen one day listening to an angry family member complain. I was there in the bedroom with my mother, and I'm not deaf. Ooooookaaaaaaay, I thought, and I waited, looking at her. She gave me a hug and said, "What I do hear, I let go in one ear and out the other. I think you're a lovely lady." And I smiled but said nothing. She suggested that I call her sometime. "We could talk," she said. I thanked her, and said nothing.

At the grave site, another cousin began to make snide comments about members of my family to me. I know that she wanted to discuss my opinion on this family of mine. I smiled and made noncommital remarks, but said nothing. She assured me that my family was not unique, that she had issues in her own family. I made no comment. She wanted to stay in touch she said.

I'd made a vow. That vow was that my silence would be my sacrifice, that I would put my trust in God, that I would not respond or defend myself as the accusations flew and as the stories were told. It is so easy to feed into that sort of situation. If I had talked to either of my cousins, provided them with the little tidbits they were so anxious for, I would have been rewarded. They would have responded with the inside scoop on what family members were saying about me. The thing is, it doesn't matter. I don't want to know. The people that love me will not believe the stories. The people that don't love me don't matter. So I've kept my own counsel, and I have tried my best to stay out of the accusing and blaming and tales. God knows what I am. He also knows what I've done, and haven't done.

People amaze me. But I have to say, I am proud of myself. I behaved like a class act, and God was not ashamed.


BUSH BABE said...

Amen to that. Observe and save as inspiration for characters in that book, Debby!

Scotty said...

Good for you, Debby, I can't abide gossips either; they're usually cruel, ignorant, and small-minded people.

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you. ~Spanish Proverb

Gossip is a sort of smoke that comes from the dirty tobacco-pipes of those who diffuse it: it proves nothing but the bad taste of the smoker.
~George Eliot

I resolve to speak ill of no man whatever, not even in a matter of truth; but rather by some means excuse the faults I hear charged upon others, and upon proper occasions speak all the good I know of everybody.
~Benjamin Franklin

Kelly said...

It's one of the reasons I stopped serving on my church's "prayer chain". There's a fine line between information and gossip.

Excellent quotes, Scotty.