I recently took a little poll on Facebook asking people what they have been struggling with in life that they would like some encouragement about. One of the answers I received was how to deal with people who are gossiping about you. And this stood out to me as a great topic to write on since at some point in life, we've all been gossiped about.
Thankfully, not all rumors are huge or life-altering. They are still hurtful and are still hard to overcome, but I am glad that many rumors are "smaller". Unfortunately though, not everyone escapes quite so unscathed.
When I was in 8th grade, my basketball coach was like a second dad to me. I confided in him often, and he treated me like a daughter. But there were some people on the team who he didn't treat quite as well, and it was clear that I was "the favorite". I couldn't really do anything to change that since I wasn't the one making it that way (and I was a self-conscious 8th grader, for Pete's sake!), but I did feel a little bad that the other girls had to deal with that. And unfortunately, some of the girls on the team were more upset about it than I realized and started spreading rumors that I was romantically involved with the coach! I was so hurt. So angry. Not only would I NEVER do anything like that, but I was also dating the coach's son at the time, which made it doubly embarrassing. I didn't know what to do. That piece of gossip had torn me apart and to this day makes me cringe.
Thankfully, no one really believed that rumor. My school-mates knew me better than that. But nevertheless, that rumor was still started and still caused me a lot of hurt and embarrassment. It would have been easy for me to start throwing punches- both verbally and physically. It would have been easy for me to plot against them, retaliate, or start rumors about them too. But that's not how anyone should handle gossip. There's a better way- a way that we would be wise to learn sooner, rather than later, because people are always going to gossip. It's just a fact.
Learn How to Shake It OffIt's hard for me to make this first point, honestly, because I just so happen to be the world's worst at "shaking it off". I worry about people's perception of me far too often, and I hold onto hurtful things for far too long. But when we get right down to it, one thing that we have to do with gossip is let it go.
We absolutely have to let it roll off of our back's and move on; if we don't, we will live in constant turmoil, fretting about the lies people have spread and the hurt people have caused. It's not worth it. We have to let it go. We may even have to accept that some people will never believe our side of the story. Some people will always believe lies about us. We still have to shake it off.
Look Into Your Own HeartSeeing your own heart can be a good thing or a really scary thing depending on the day, your circumstances, and the particular situation you're in. On the one hand, the people talking badly about you don't know your heart. If your heart is pure and so are your motives, then be confident that what they say about you isn't true and that if they could see your heart they would realize that they shouldn't be saying those things. And even if the gossipers never realize that, at least we know the truth and can rest easy.
On the other hand, sometimes our hearts and motives are not pure at all. Sometimes, we know deep-down, that what those people are saying about us is true. In those moments, we have to take responsibility for our own actions, thoughts, and motives. We have decide to get our act together and make some changes. Then, the people gossiping about us won't have anything to talk about and we will be able to say once more that we have a clear conscience.
Forgive, Forgive, ForgiveOne thing I've realized lately is that not everyone thinks you should forgive quickly. Some people, even Christians, believe that you shouldn't forgive someone until they have asked for forgiveness. Well, I don't agree with that and I never have. But, I did make sure to think through it when a friend of mine brought it up. I didn't want to just blow them off and discount their ideas. But after thinking about it, bringing up different scriptures, and talking through it with other believers, I still whole-heartedly believe that we should forgive people whether they ask for our forgiveness or not.
But why is that important here, you ask? Well, because the people that are gossiping about you may never apologize. They may not realize that they've done anything hurtful, or they may just not care. But holding on to anger isn't doing you any good, my friend. It will cause you a lot more harm to stay mad than it will to forgive. Plus, an unwillingness to forgive isn't exactly the best witness in the world, ya know?
Approach the GossipPersonally, I think it's best to talk things through whenever you can. So, if the person who has been spreading rumors about you is approachable enough that you could kindly mention the hurt they've caused, then I recommend you do that.
However, it's important to be able to read the situation. If you know that the one gossiping is malicious and uncaring, approaching that person probably won't do any good. So if that's the situation, go back to step one- shake it off and move on.
Dealing with gossip is not a formula. Each situation has it's own distinct problems and I am not going to pretend to know exactly what you are going through. BUT, what I do know is that oftentimes, the steps I outlined above are a good approach to handling gossip with godliness, kindness, and grace. The gossips may not learn their lesson, and there may be some who never know the truth about the situation, but you can only control yourself. You are only responsible for how you handle the situation. And for your part, I highly recommend shaking it off, looking at your heart, learning to forgive, and trying to talk it out.
I hope this has helped you, friends.
Are you going through anything like this at the moment (or have you in the past)? What have you found helpful to get through it? Comment below!