4 Practical Ways To Squash The Habit of Gossiping
I once heard gossip described as a blackhead. I know, the thought doesn’t bring the best images to mind for me either. The illustration goes that a blackhead is the type of blemish that has been on your face for a while. It’s not something you wake up first thing and try to pop in alarm, you are used to it. So used to it, in fact, that it just becomes like another part of your face.
A blackhead, like gossip, isn’t something that shows up the morning after eating a particularly greasy piece of pizza. It has become so part of our daily conversations and habits, that we don’t even notice it’s there anymore, like that annoying blackhead on some part of your nose or face.
And just like with treating a blackhead, you have to really dig around and get all the gunk out to make sure the blackhead doesn’t come back. You need to create a clean hole so that fresh and new skin can grow in where the old sat for so long. We need to use the same extreme measures to remove gossip from our lives. If we don’t dig and make sure that we get all the gossip out of our hearts, it is only going to come back and out of our mouths. Though the Bible talks about having words of salt and the dangers of gossiping, we can all agree that gossiping comes more naturally than encouragement.
Gossip has always been something I struggled with. I love being in the loop of anything that is going on with my friends, on my college campus, even in my workplace. There is no feeling to me like filling someone in on a particularly juicy secret. I used to be ok being known as the girl who loved to gossip. It’s just part of who I am, I remember thinking to comfort myself. Everyone has those sins that they can’t shake, I would reason. It’s not like I can actually stop gossiping.
However, I have recently found myself being more and more convicted of this nasty habit. For so long, I let the enemy make me believe that my identity was in the fact that I was a gossiper. But that’s not true, for me or for any of us. I am not a gossiper, I am a treasured daughter of the Highest King. I have the opportunity every day from God to speak life or death into people’s lives.
Now, I know gossip is one of those sins we all struggle with to a certain degree, but if you really want tips and tricks to kick this nasty habit to the curb, I hope what I have included below can get us all on the path to having words of salt and life.
Who is speaking into your life?
If the loudest voices in our heads are negative and belittling, that is most likely what we are going to be saying to other people. In the garden of Eden, when asked why they were hiding from God in the bushes, Adam and Eve replied that they were naked. To which God replied, who told you that you were naked?
I think that question holds so much weight even for our world today. Who told us that we were less than? Who told us that we weren’t talented? That we were fat, ugly, small, unoriginal, and worthless?
Sometimes, we have had words of gossip or spite spoken over us to break our spirits. But often, we believe the lies the enemy has snuck into our heads.
For example, I have struggled recently with being self-conscious of my legs and butt. Because I am no longer at a college campus and work a sedentary job, it has been hard not to put on some weight. And for me, all that weight goes to my legs and backside. So, I have recently started saying nasty things to myself in my own head about my legs. Yet, when I looked back and tried to pinpoint who had told me that my butt was bigger to make me be so self-conscious, I realized no one had. Actually, most people, when I brought it up, told me that they thought I looked great. I had let the enemy whisper these lies into my head until I believed they were true, and I am sure you have had the same thing happen to you too.
Unfortunately, just like we can convince ourselves of lies about ourselves, we can do the same about other people. As an avid gossiper at times, I know that often gossip is just bits of words constructed from hearsay, opinions, and jealousy of another. When we long to fit in with those girls we want to impress or that guy we think is cute, it’s easy to exaggerate a story about someone in order to make ourselves look bigger.
But, just like with God in the garden, we need to be honest and ask ourselves, who told us that? Who told us that they were less than a son or daughter of Christ? Who told us that they were rude, annoying, dumb, or dressed poorly? Can we factually back up these words we are so quick to say about others, or is it something that we have cooked up with the enemy? Don’t become the person to call someone out for being naked when they didn’t even realize they were. Be the person who is ready to tell them Whose they are.
2. Renew your mind
The world is a loud and relentless place. Everywhere we look we are surrounded by social media posts, articles, ads, and signs urging us to agree with whoever happens to be speaking. It doesn’t matter if they are right or not, just how many followers they have currently liking their Instagram photos.
We need to make sure that the voices and truths we are filling ourselves up with the most are from God and not from men. It is going to be really hard not to spew gossip left and right when that is what the world is telling us to do. The world tells us to look out for ourselves and do whatever feels good, but God tells us to look after others. The world tells us that there is only enough room at the table for one, but God tells us that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
The world isn’t just the people speaking into your lives in person or via social media, but also the TV shows you watch, podcasts you listen to, books you read. If we spend more time with the world than with God, our mind is going to resort to our natural sinful natures. Make sure that you are diligently reading God’s scriptures and surrounding yourself with friends who will speak life and encouragement into you each day.
3. Get an accountability partner
It can be intimidating to ask someone to walk beside you as you struggle with this sin of gossip. Because, let’s face it, gossip is just a gross sin to admit to having. It might be easy for you to sit across from a friend at a cafe and talk about your sin of pride or lying or greed, but not for gossip. But instead of gossiping about the last episode of a new TV show or about the latest development in that girl’s series of broken relationships, we need to take the time to be real and broken with our closest friends. If we start opening up to others about what we are struggling with, I think we’ll be amazed at the healing that can take place in both lives.
We all know that the enemy loves it when we keep our sins hidden in the dark. But God wants us to bring our sins to the light where they can be exposed and healed. I encourage you if you are struggling with the sin of gossip, to invite some trusted friends or mentors to help you as you walk towards healing.
4. Call it out
It’s so easy to sit in a group of girls and just listen to the gossip coming out of people’s mouths and feel like you’re not doing anything wrong as long as you don’t say anything. I hate to say this, but you are just as much a part of the problem if you are listening to gossip as if you are the one saying it. So how can we do our part to nip this sin in the but? By calling it out when we hear others or ourselves gossiping.
Now, I know this can feel very intimidating, but I promise you that there are several ways to do this, some more tactful than others. For example, if a friend is gossiping, you can try changing the subject, you can try emphasizing with her. Perhaps talking about how you understand how she is feeling and leaving it at that, instead of continuing to add fuel to the gossip fire by agreeing with the words she said about another. If those two tactics don’t work, just plain say, hey I’m not comfortable talking about this.
However, if you are going to call out your friends in gossip, you need to be willing to do this to yourself. So, if you realize that you are the one stirring up gossip or just venting, call it out. Take a second and apologize for the words you say. It can be as simple as saying, “You know guys I’m just venting. Sorry to get so negative.” Or, “ you know I am being a terrible gossip, let’s talk about something else.” The beautiful thing is that when you stick to your guns about trying to squash gossiping, people are going to come alongside you and want to be part of this process. It may be uncomfortable the first couple of times, but soon, you will have friends right there with you calling out you and others when gossip is brought up.
Gossip is one of those sins that I have far from mastered, but I do know that I am done letting it master me. I want to be the type of woman that is known for the kind and encouraging words she has spoken over others, not one who is always there when someone is starting to spill the tea.
You are so much greater than this sin, and with God’s and others help, you can conquer it. So, let’s go about our days and make a promise to ourselves to truly think before we speak. We have the power to speak life and death into other lives every minute of every day, let’s fight every second to choose life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel resides in Lancaster, Pa where she is a Digital Marketing Specialist. A recent graduate from Grove City College, Rachel hopes that her articles can help girls through hard times in college and also as they transition into the real world. In her spare time, you can find Rachel reading, hanging with her small group, exploring cute cafes, and longing for the ocean. You can find more of her writing at christiangirlcode.org.