I was once asked what I consider to be the most important traits to look for in a friend. I have a few, but one is an absolute must:
Without trust, there cannot be an intimate friendship. Sure, you can be friends with someone you don't trust, but they can never be a close friend. If our conversation is not progressing past casual chit-chat/what the weather is like because I'm afraid they might blab anything I say to the next 50 people they encounter, then it's not really a friendship; they're more of an acquaintance.
Women have all gossiped or had other women gossip about others to us - I think it's pretty safe to say that. I did a dictionary search for the word 'gossip' as it seems to mean different things to different people. Some say a gossip is someone who maliciously spreads lies and rumours. Others say it's someone who can't keep a secret because they get too excited or just can't help themselves, but no harm was actually intended. Still others say if someone repeats something they were asked to keep to themselves, whether it's true or not, good news or bad, it's still gossip!
The Free Dictionary seems to support all three definitions:
A person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumours or facts.
A conversation involving malicious chatter or rumours about other people.
Can't keep a secret.
I've told gossipy people stuff, knowing that they were going to spread it as soon as possible. That was because I really didn't care! They may have thought they had a tasty morsel of news, but either it was old hat or nothing really confidential or important. I remember laying a trap for a gossip once; I told them something that wasn't really that secret, but asked them to keep it to themselves. When I realised that their lips had flapped, I knew I couldn't trust them with anything really important. It doesn't matter whether they're just one of those people who 'got too excited and couldn't help it'. They need to SEW their lips shut if need be.
I deliberately hid that I was in the MBU from some people. It's not because I was ashamed but because I didn't want them delighting in telling people. I didn't want the whole 'gossip disguised as prayer points' thing happening:
"We should pray for Sarah."
"Oh, what's happened to Sarah?"
"Didn't you know?"
It made me happy to stop them getting their jollies out of telling people.
Information shared should not automatically be classified as gossip. It's ok to share news. We should definitely pray together for people. The problem is when it is BREAKING CONFIDENTIALITY.
What's so juicy about gossip? Why do it? Why do some people particularly get a buzz out of it?
I think it's the 'being in the know' factor.
Gossip gives people a sense of self-importance. They knew FIRST. Therefore, they must have more friends, be more liked and in the inner circle and not the outer. This is quite interesting because gossips rarely stay in the 'inner circle' when people realise they can't be trusted. Have you ever been told a piece of gossip and seen the deflated look on the gossip's face when you told them you already knew? Suddenly they realise they're not so special. They're not everyone's best friend.
It is so, so hard not to indulge in gossip. Whether it's been in schools, workplaces, churches, I've seen and heard it all. It's horrible to feel on the outer, to not be accepted by the clique. But gossip is never a good way to make friends. If someone is bitching to you about their best friend, then what are they saying about you to someone else? Gossip may unite women at first, but it's usually only temporary.
One thing that struck me about the definitions of gossip was that it was described as 'idle talk'. One of the biggest temptations for women to gossip is when we're idle. I've noticed that in country towns. I used to work in a shop where sometimes the same women would come in several times a day, admitting it was because they were bored. Oh my, the stuff they would say about people in the town, people I hadn't even met yet! Keeping busy can help with the temptation to gossip.
Please God, help me and other women keep a reign on our tongues. Let us speak words of truth, encouragement and love.