Have you ever found yourself, let’s say, at a party or a kids sporting event and the group conversation slowly drifts into “well did you hear?” As if on cue, someone in the group will say, “No. What?” I’ve learned that’s the signal something wonderful or horrible is about to follow. Most of the time it’s not wonderful.

Usually the person sharing the information smiles and sits up a little taller because she is privy to information no one else is. Everyone leans in a little closer not to miss a morsel and listens intently as the story unfolds. If this is a proper church going group, the concluding sentence is, “I’m only telling you this so you can pray.”

What’s fascinating is when someone in that group of listeners retells the story, it’s always embellished. Within a week a soap opera worthy script is spun. It’s chancy to share you have an appointment to have mole checked out. You may find out through the grapevine you only have six months to live with fatal skin cancer.

Why are we so interested in the misfortunes of others? When things are retold, opinions are thrown into the mix and assumptions are made. That’s why minor things grow into monsters. I don’t believe anything unless it is first hand information. Even then I have several questions.

Here’s what I have figured out … if someone talks to me about someone else, they will talk to someone else about me. I found myself in a situation once where an angry person started venting to me about what a mutual friend had said and done. I told her that was between her and our friend. It wasn’t mine to deal with. But she persisted. I finally held up my hand and said, “I meant what I said,” and walked away.

My mom used to say, “If you’re not part of the problem or part of the solution, stay out of it.” I have learned the hard way, when I ignore her advice, I end up in trouble every time.

“He who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself from calamity.”
-Proverbs 21:23

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