Keep Yourself from Calamity, Part 1
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.
He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.
As our kids grew into adulthood, Chuck and I decided that we wanted our home to be their safe place. We committed that we would not gossip about them to their siblings. This commitment hasn’t always been easy to keep. When we fail, calamity fills our hearts and home. When we fail, we seek forgiveness, reminding ourselves that our children will never feel safe with us if they believe we rip them apart with our tongues. Our children make decisions that we don’t agree with, but it’s their turn to make those decisions. We have sometimes realized there is more than one right way to go, maybe theirs is better! Our love for them doesn’t waver because we disagree. Gossiping about their choices would destroy their trust in us. They know they can talk to us about anything, especially difficulties in their own families, because they know we will keep what they share confidential. They know their secrets are safe with us. We take our concerns privately to the Lord and pray for our children and grandchildren. We will not destroy their trust in us by gossiping about them. Many of our grandchildren are entering adulthood and we want them to have the same assurance – that their secrets and struggles are safe with us. The Scriptures guide us in our relationships:
A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret -Proverbs 11:13
A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a person who talks too much. -Proverbs 20:19
With her mouth the godless destroys her neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous escape. -Proverbs 11:9
A perverse woman stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends. -Proverbs 16:28
These exhortations are black and white. There is no wiggle room, is there?
A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a person who talks too much. Years ago I recognized myself as the one who talks too much. I needed to practice listening rather than preparing my own statements while the other person poured out their hearts. Maybe I didn’t need to respond at all, just listen and pray.
Calamity follows gossip and gossip separates close friends. Remember these words when your broken friend shares intimate details about her life or her family. Protect her privacy. Her life is her story to share. People visiting our home right after our son’s death saw us in our most intimate grieving moments. Later, as I reflected on the pain of our grief in those moments, I hoped that those friends, who were with us, protected us by keeping private what they saw.
A friend asked me to pray for her teenager. She gave me no details, saying, “This is her story so when she is ready, she will share it. For now, just pray for the Lord to protect her.” That’s a good filter, isn’t it? Is it your story to share? Or does the story belong to the one living it?
Lord, this is a hard place, knowing when to speak and when to be quiet, when to share details, when to protect the privacy of friends or family members. Scripture is a roadmap for this hard place. Transform my heart so that Your peace reigns and that same peace flows from my heart through my lips.