Whoever slanders a neighbor in secret I will reduce to silence. Haughty eyes and arrogant hearts I cannot endure. Psalm 101:5
Jocelyn is now in fourth grade. As early as last year, a pattern developed between two of her friends where they would fight and put Jocelyn in the middle. The first girl would speak badly of the second to Jocelyn, and swear Jocelyn to secrecy. Then, the second girl would try to pry out of Jocelyn what the first girl said about her, and vice versa.
It kills me that the girl-drama already exists at this age. However, I’m trying to see the good in that.
Each time it happens, Jocelyn and I talk about what it means to be a good friend. In words she can understand, I explain that it’s human nature to get frustrated with people. When that frustration reaches a certain level, we need to vent. Like a pressure cooker, we need to release the steam or we’ll explode. But there’s a very clear line between venting and slandering.
Venting is simply recounting the story – trying to be as truthful as we can, despite our high emotion. Sometimes it’s the only way to purge all those feelings in order to see things more clearly. It’s only when our vision is clear that we can see the part we’ve played in the situation.
Slandering is a whole different story. It has bad intention written all over it. It becomes a campaign to recruit supporters to our side to justify our perspective. Like Psalm 101:5 says, we let our hearts become arrogant and our eyes become haughty in the process, elevating ourselves on the backs of the ones we’re slandering. A good friend never does that.
Despite how much I wish this drama weren’t happening so early, each time we face it, Jocelyn is absorbing a bit more of these concepts. Like a jigsaw puzzle that needs to be built one piece at a time, her ability to discern venting from slandering, and a good friend from a bad one, is going to be complete well before the age I ever figured things out.
Rumor has it that the middle school in our town is far more socially brutal than most. When I hear that, I can see how God is working in mysterious ways, preparing Jocelyn, and me, for what lies ahead.
Questions for Reflection:
* When I’m upset with someone, do I vent to release the steam? Or do I slander?
* Have I taught my children where the line should be drawn between the two?