Each year we make cookies for city workers and mailmen, place the cookies in boxes wrapped in paper and bows all glittered and festive for the Christmas season. A card is attached thanking them for their hard work.
This particular Christmas season we had the opportunity to work a soup kitchen. We arrived early enough to receive instructions, don our aprons and take our place in the serving line.
Almost immediately, souls began to come in for a meal. So many men and women full of days; and, it seemed that the later days were not so kind to them. A few children came through the line and I noticed my daughter speaking to one with excitement, then the conversation died and the boy walk on down the line.
When he reached me, I recognized him as one of the boys in my daughter’s class. He kept his eyes lowered; and, I piled an extra large helping of mashed potatoes onto his plate held with skinny little arms.
As soon as the last of the people had come through our line, my daughter pulled off her apron, announcing that she wanted to go home.
In the car this young one, whose heart is breaking right out of her chest, began to tell her story.
“At first we thought it was cool to see each other away from school – then we just looked at each other because we were standing on different sides of the serving line,” And she wept, because she felt his embarrassment.
“What do I say to him tomorrow at school?” Now her face is twisted as if in physical pain, but it is her heart that is in pain.
“Well, you walk in like you have done everyday since school began, say hi, to everyone like you always have, and don’t treat him any different than you did on Friday. But, most importantly, do not tell anyone what you know. If you talk about this to your friends you will hurt him even more. Talking about this is gossip and gossip destroys people.”
School and work are not the only places we find gossip. We also can find it in stepfamilies. “What you hear at home, stays at home,” does not always work in stepfamilies. Children talk between houses; and, to keep your life completely private is next to impossible.
Here are some thoughts about trying to keep gossip out of your stepfamily.
A story is told that a man said unkind words about a Rabbi; and, then later, he realized he should not have been saying such things. He goes to the Rabbi and asks forgiveness and wants to do something to make amends.
The Rabbi tells him to take a feathered pillow, cut it open and empty the contents onto the ground. Once completed the man returns to the Rabbi and is told to go back and collect all of the feathers; but the man cannot because the feathers have been spread abroad by the wind.
This is how it is with gossip; once the words have left the lips they cannot be gathered back.
Teach your children that the words they speak can never be taken back. Tell them the story of the feathered pillow.
Teach your children that the person that the story concerns considers all information private unless you have permission to tell the story. God gave a lot of information to Moses; but Moses told to the people only the information that God expressly told him to say.
God takes gossip very seriously. “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Empty-head’ shall be guilty before the Supreme Court; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” (Matthew 5:22 NASB) Ya’ll, God is serious!
Gossip destroys. It destroys not just the one who is telling the gossip, and not just the one who is talked about, but it destroys the one who stands around and listens. Because whether it is true or not, it causes us to form an opinion about someone, instead of allowing our opinion being influenced by God.
I wish I could tell you that I have never gossiped, but I would be lying.
More than gossip I am a writer and I love to hear stories, but I have learned that unless you have permission, then it is best to stay silent.
Teaching children about gossip is important, especially in a stepfamily. Most children of divorce have had to endure some kind of gossip from school – the kind of gossip that is spread at home by the parents, then repeated by the children at school.
We all need to be careful what we talk about even in the privacy of our own homes.
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