Monday, May 19, 2008

I don't know how to title this one...

Okay, so I'd really like some feed back on this one...even from those of you who read but don't usually comment!

Something I ponder about often is the power of the tongue and how easy it is to say things we shouldn't. Things in anger, things in carelessness, things in gossip. Let's face it; we women especially are sociable people! It's easy to get together as a group, large or small, and "catch each other up" on what's going on....even when it doesn't pertain to us personally. It's something I struggle with, but with God's help, I'm getting better...but will never let my guard down.

We tend to share things under the guise of "prayer requests." After all, that isn't "gossip," is it? I mean, we're sharing a prayer concern....something someone is really struggling with...and hey, they need prayer, right? And how do we know how to pray about for them if we don't fill others in on what's happening...or at least give them enough information without really "telling" but still where they can fill in the gaps or assume things that may or may not really be true? Plus, what IS gossip? Something that isn't true? Something that may or may not be true? Something that we know is true but doesn't pertain to us or isn't our place to tell others under any circumstance? And what do we do if we spread gossip and are convicted by we go back to the person we spoke about even though they may not even know we said anything? Do we go back to the person we gossiped to and confess what we did?

Years ago, someone close to me called members of my family with a prayer concern regarding me. Something that wasn't completely true...they had certain facts that were completely innocent, but through their imagination, they assumed the worst. Things blew out of control when I started getting calls and emails from different family members. My reputation suffered a pretty big hit, and it upset me that those closest to me assumed the worse without checking what the facts were...and passed on those concerns to others as well. That incident has since been cleared up, everything forgiven between me and the other person involved, and I'm glad to say we again share a good, close relationship. It wasn't always that way...for about three or four years, the other person didn't think she did anything wrong because she was concerned for me and shared that with others as a "prayer request." Never mind that things had been assumed and not verified. Those lost years of friendship aren't something we can get back, but I can honestly say that I once again fully trust this person and we have both matured from that incident. However, I see this happen to so many other people.

How do you deal with it when someone tells you a "prayer request" that isn't really their business to share? Or just flat out gossips? And how do you know what is or isn't okay to share with others? Is it okay to share a concern that involves you...if it involves someone else and you've not gotten their permission to share it, especially if it's on a very personal level? And is it ever okay to share things with family without having permission -- or flat out having been asked not to -- if it involves another family member...or maybe someone that the other person doesn't even know?

And here's a hot-button question...what about sharing something with your husband that you know is confidential? I sometimes struggle with that...there are times that I know something he would be interested in or concerned about or would affect him directly or I share the knowledge that I have with him? On the one hand, I don't want to gossip...but on the other hand, I don't want to keep things from my husband. I try and go by the example set by a wonderful godly woman who has been an example to me in many ways...whenever I talked with her, she always asked if it was okay to share with her husband or if I preferred to keep it between us. But, honestly, I don't always do that 100% of the time.

The Bible is so clear about gossip and the tongue. And the Bible is so clear about older women being an example to the younger women.

This past week I faced a personal struggle and needed to talk with someone about it, pray with someone, vent to someone I could trust who could help keep me on track and could give me godly advice, make sure my focus was on Him and not what my struggle was. And I was thankful I have someone I could turn to here, someone a bit older than me who exhibits the traits of a woman of excellence. It made me all sisters in Christ have someone they can turn to for advice and mentoring, someone they can trust who will keep confidences and give them godly direction? I knew that with the myriad of emotions I was going through, this wonderful friend would be able to pick apart what I was saying, pray with me, help me weed through things, and -- if I needed to hear hard truth that I didn't want to hear or face-- she would tell it to me in a straight up but loving way.

So leave me a comment. Weigh in on the topic. Even those of you who I know read my blog but have never commented (I know who you least some of you!). Post anonymously or leave your name.

And if I ever share something with you that isn't my place to...confront me in love, okay? Cut me off before my tongue goes out of control. Even if we're in a group of people. Don't stay silent. Make me stay silent. Not only will I be thankful to you...but so will the person my "prayer request" is about!


liz said...

It is interesting being married to a man who, by law, has to keep certain things confidential. It has shown me that it can be done and even must be done. His standard is the correct one.

I also think that very often people assume that what they are sharing will be kept in confidence, while I (as the listener) am NOT assuming that. I think I may be better assuming I MAY NOT share than that I may.

I have taken to Joe's habit--and the one you mention--of asking if I may share if I feel it's adventageous. Most often, the person prefers I don't.

I always have room to improve in this area. Thanks for the reminder.

LindaSue said...

thanks for sharing, Liz! I appreciate your comments. I was thinking how hard it must be to be someone like you (dr wife) or pastor's wife where you know so much confidential stuff...often about people you are very close to...and how hard it must be not to say something to others...or even to them about being aware of their situation (if/when your husband needs to talk about things). BIG hugs!

precious grandma said...

regarding a pastor's wife (or Dr.'s) Gram had a good outlook: Don't ask him questions. If he chooses to tell you, that's a different story. Then when someone asks what did your husband have to say about this or that you can honestly say, "I didn't ask". Makes sense to me. I'm still working on this dily. Thanks for your prayers!

liz said...

Actually, I was going to say that I DON'T know things because Joe does. He doesn't tell me. And if I do ask, he usually says, "I can't say." After enough of that response--I've gotten the hint! And I still feel that this standard should apply to most situations that I know.

LindaSue said...

good for Joe! And good for you! One of my struggles is in what is okay to share with Tony and what isn't. I've taken to asking someone (when they confide in me) if it would be okay to share with Tony or if they'd prefer I not. It's hard, not sharing something with your spouse, but I think to maintain one's integrity and trust-worthiness, ya gotta be careful not to say anything to anyone when confided in (although I also think there are some blurred lines in situations like any kind of abuse, or suicide threats or potential violence towards someone). I'm also thankful that neither my husband nor I aren't a physician, attorney, or clergy where more confidential stuff is known by one person... Ah, the tongue! And the urge to "share information" (GOSSIP!!) with others... I still fall short at times, but God's faithful to keep working on me! And it's a humbling thing to go back to someone whose confidence I broke and ask for forgiveness...

Martha said...

Fred and I have had a policy since the beginning of our marriage that we will only share things with the third party's permission. If they don't come right out and say, "You can share this with Fred" and I know it's a personal topic, I won't say a word. Sure it's hard, but I put myself in someone else's shoes and wonder if I would appreciate my friend's husband knowing something that I just shared in confidence with her.

I have also come to the conclusion that there are times when saying, "Please don't tell me anything else" or "This really isn't any of my business" is more important than pacifying a friendship. It's sooooo hard, but I think now my friends know that I won't participate in talk like that. Do I want to? Of course! I'm as curious as the next person, but it's gotten a whole lot easier to walk away from it.

LindaSue said...

thanks, Mar! I try and do the same...asking someone not to continue or telling them I prefer to hear it from the person themselves...but I've been accused of being "self-righteous" and at times there have been people who still continue, just talking louder than me just to "get it out" whether I want to hear it or not. It's hard dealing with it...especially when it's someone I'm close to. I agree also with not wanting my friends' spouse to know what I've shared...and it IS hard not to share with my spouse!