Our third installment of the Sisterhood Series is about gossip versus communication. This bad habit, this sin of gossip, threatens to tear apart our friendships and relationships but also erodes how we view the world and process our experiences so let’s dive into how to reshape it!
The most logical way to stop a habit is to define it, replace it, and practice, practice, practice.
So what really qualifies as gossip, anyway?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church slots gossip right there under the Eighth Commandment and lays it out pretty clearly here in section 2477: rash judgment, detraction, and calumny. All components of gossip, amirite?
But what about a deeper form of gossip?
The one where our issues with another person aren’t simply judgments, criticisms, or lies. The form of gossip where we don’t take our issue to the person we’re having a problem with, but instead, to either confidants or everyone else who will listen and take our side.
In the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, we are told how to handle these disputes. In one word: communication! He says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (Matthew 18:15). Speak directly to the person!
Why don’t we?
I complained about the entire situation to my sister, blurting it all out, and feeling pretty vindicated as I did. Clearly these people didn’t deserve my help and why had I wasted it and my time on them! She began asking a series of questions: had I told them what happened from my side? Had I asked if they acted this way intentionally? Had I been direct about my decisions moving forward? No, I hadn’t done any of these because I was afraid of what would happen if I was direct.
Gossip is tied to lots of deep hurts in us, but often in fear.
In fear of communicating, in wanting to control the outcome of a dispute and being afraid to bring it to light in case it doesn’t go our way.
And we find ourselves viewing every situation negatively, looking for that gossip sliver, looking for a way to criticize and tear someone down after we leave.
What do we replace it with?
So if we replace gossip with talking, talking with an open heart accepting we may be wounded, talking to understand the other person and hope for ourselves to be understood, we have little to lose and lots to gain.
Let’s practice today, sisters.
First Step: practice stopping the habit of sharing information that isn’t our story, even benign passing of news.
Second Step: pay attention to what we do tend to share about others and ask, is it charitable? Is it necessary? Is it true?
Third Step: ask a close friend or family member to help us sort out when we are sharing and when it’s gossip.
Fourth Step: re-frame how you view the person you gossip about by praying for them–prayer can truly move mountains, even the boulders in our hearts
Fifth Step: bring a problem that’s brewing, large or small, to the source and use “i” statements, do it when you’re not made, and try to stick it out if the conversation gets sticky.
Sixth Step: invite the Holy Spirit into every conversation by simply praying silently or aloud, “Come, Holy Spirit” before you start–He will help guide you back to a good habit!
Let’s pray for each other over the weekend, sisters. Let’s pray this prayer from Saint John Chrysostom, an early Church Father and Doctor of the Church: “O Lord, sprinkle into my heart the dew of Thy grace.” May we approach communication with His grace and slide out from under the oppressive weight that is gossip.
Blessed is She