Big topic here. I wrote that last post on gossip and it kept me thinking. If I'm being even more honest, I think I was thinking about it because I was trying to find a way to gossip without it being called gossip. I came up with a "what if".
What if I'm really struggling with a friend or a family situation and I truly do not know how to handle it in a godly way? Can I talk about it then?
I think that answer is "yes", but I think that "yes" also has some qualifiers. I think it has some rules that need to be followed with the underlying principle of discretion directing your actions.
Try to talk about the situation without using names. And don't try to include as many details or hints about that person so that your listener cannot fail to figure out who you're discussing.
Describe the situation objectively and talk about the person in a kind and charitable manner. Every negative word you say about that person has the potential to bring that person down a few notches in the eyes of the person with whom you're sharing the problem. Gossip damages others' reputations, sometimes irreparably.
Share the situation with an older, wiser woman who is not connected to the situation. Oftentimes I've found that bouncing a situation or someone's hurtful words off of a wiser woman will either leave me with the realization that I was too sensitive or give me tried and true suggestions based on many more years of experience than I could possibly have. I've noticed that older women have so much more confidence and wisdom and most of them simply do not encounter the drama-filled, tension-filled female relationships that many of us younger women do.
Limit the number of people you talk to about the situation or person. Yes, you may truly need a godly perspective on the situation. You many need someone to practice your words on to make sure they are kind and wise. But you don't need 15 people to practice on. You don't need 15 perspectives on the problem. You only need one. Think about this: what if the situation with the difficult person is resolved and your relationship is restored? If you've talked to 15 people and disparaged that person to all of them, that difficult person now has a damaged reputation with lots of people.
Consult Scripture and pray about the situation. Christian Living 101, I know, but for some reason I always think the Bible will have nothing to say about my difficult friendship. And um, yeah...SURPRISE! It does have something to say. You may not even need to confront the difficult person or get another person's perspective on the situation. So much the better, in that case.
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