I have a daughter who is almost 3 years old. Anytime someone interacts with her for longer than 5 minutes they immediately make the observation, “Wow. She has a lot of words. She talks non-stop.” Yes. Welcome to my life.
It got me thinking though. Are the billions of questions and constant story telling unique to just my Ava? Or are women simply wired to have lots to say?
I can tell when I’ve been talking too much with my husband because he sort of just gets a glazed-over look on his face and I begin to realize his responses to me are more a rhythmic “Uh, huh. Oh yeah?” rather than any signs of active listening.
What I find fascinating though, is how sometimes it feels almost impossible for me to keep my mouth shut. Have you ever been mid-story and felt the Holy Spirit’s prompting to stop talking? I have even said out loud, “Ooo, I don’t know if I should be saying this. Maybe this is gossip?” Like, I literally said that to the person I was talking to and battled about how to proceed from there. I wish I could tell you I always obey the Spirit’s guiding and flee from the potential slanderous scene, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. I just keep right on talking – runnin’ my mouth, sharing way too much and gossiping with and about other people.
Sometimes it feels almost impossible for me to keep my mouth shut
Now, I like to believe the best in my fellow followers of Christ and hope our struggle with gossip really isn’t as rampant as I think it might be. However, have you ever been with a group of friends and someone started a sentence with, “Did you hear about so-and-so? We should really pray for them.” Now, let’s be gut honest. Are you really going to pray for them? Or did you just cloak some yummy gossip in sharing prayer requests?
There is a reason that God’s word addresses gossip so directly:
“ For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.” Proverbs 26:20, and later in verse 22,
“The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.”
Literally, when we obey the Spirit’s prompting to stop talking and hold back gossip, the fires go out and quarreling ceases. But when we fail to our flesh, those tasty little gossip bits are delicious morsels, only leaving us wanting more and more. Maybe that’s why gossip can be affectionately called “juicy.”
A little check-and-balance that I use is asking myself the question, “Is this my story to tell?” Is what I am about to share really mine to share, or is it third-hand information that brings nothing productive to my current conversation except delicious morsels of gossip? Another question I ask myself is, “Would I say what I’m about to say if the person was sitting right next to me?” I get it, sometimes we feel like we need to vent, blow off steam or let our hair down. But, in the act of “getting things off our chest” are we being slanderous and cutting? Is what I’m about to say during my vent session things I would say to the person directly if they were here? If no, then it probably doesn’t need to be said.
Here are some questions to consider:
What can you do to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit when He prompts you to keep your mouth shut? Speak slowly? Listen more?
Is there anyone you need to call and apologize to for bringing them into gossip when you shouldn’t have?
Perhaps as I challenge myself to stop talking, and hold back information for the sake of others, you can too. Lets begin to function as one body, unified under Christ. Let’s use our tongues, words and thoughts to encourage one another rather than tear each other down. Lets allow quarreling to cease and fires to go out, rather than our words to set blazes to our relationships.
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Image Credit: Cedward Price, Creative Commons