Keep Yourself from Calamity
by Sharon Betters
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 may 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.
A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a person who talks too much.
With her mouth the godless destroys her neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous escape.
A perverse woman stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.
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 a 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 is the story to be shared by the one living it?
LIFE GIVING ENCOURAGEMENT
In your personal time with the Lord today, ask Him to show you places where you have violated your friend’s confidentiality or spoken words that created unnecessary conflict. Repent and determine to use words that are life-giving rather than life-taking. Commit to no gossip. Ask the Lord to remind you of His presence and grace every time you are tempted to speak words that could crush someone’s spirit (Ephesians 4:12).
Make a note in your journal that describes your resolve. Write out one of Today’s Treasure verses. Reflect on it and ask God to use this verse to guide your words.
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.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go to the MARKINC website and listen to the Chronic Illness in Young Adults audio resource so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
Instead of enjoying the freedom that comes with young adulthood, there is a whole population that struggles to reconcile their physical limitations with everyday life. Three young adults share their own stories of dealing with delayed life plans, limited social lives, and the search for friends who “get” their physical disabilities. Tim, Stephanie and Stephen give us a glimpse into the ongoing battles to find purpose and joy as they live each day with chronic illnesses. Their stories will encourage other young adults and equip their friends and family to better understand their daily struggles.