“The second is this, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Mark 12:31
With Jocelyn in fifth grade now, I’ve prepared myself all year for the drama that girls in that age group can generate. To my surprise, it didn’t begin until yesterday, and it wasn’t girl drama. It was boy drama.
But, girls being girls, they talked about it and obsessed over it ad infinitum. They talked amongst themselves all day at school, and even brought it to the teacher’s attention. Jocelyn talked to me the minute she got in the door. She even wanted to tell my husband and her brothers because she felt so badly for the boy who was impacted by the situation.
That’s when I had to step in and help her clarify her intentions.
When something happens that affects us deeply, it’s human nature to want to talk about it. It helps us process and clarify things. It also helps us identify our feelings and put them in their proper place.
But when we take it to the extreme where we are either wallowing in our own misery, or crossing the line into gossiping about others, it’s time to stop and examine our motive.
God’s second command is to love our neighbor as our self. If us continuing to talk about it is going to benefit the person, that’s great. But if it’s ultimately going to hurt them because we’re spreading their private business further than it should go, that’s a different story.
It remains to be seen if Jocelyn truly heard me and absorbed the message. I know she ultimately wants to help and protect this boy. I just hope the pull of the drama doesn’t reel her back in again so she ends up causing more harm than good.
Questions for Reflection:
* When I’m sharing about something dramatic, do I recognize and respect the line between processing and gossiping?
* When my kids are in a similar situation, do I help them recognize and respect that line?
It’s a good guide you’ve given in measuring our words when it comes to others. Thank you1
Thanks so much, Elaine! Sadly, I learned to draw the line the hard way: intervening with the best of intentions, I’ve made things worse rather than better. I’ve also learned that when it comes to other people’s business, the most I should do is be available to support them, and then pray God intervenes on their behalf. In His infinite wisdom, He never makes things worse, only better. 🙂
Such a delicate human challenge for Jocelyn, at this vulnerable time in her growing to know how to avoid being dragged into a gossip conversation that’s negative about another friend or student in her circle. Jocelyn is blessed to have you, Claire, an enlightened spiritual mother, always ready to be there as listener and guide whenever she needs to talk about a troubling experience she’s facing with one or more of her peers. As I’m sure you’ll agree, this is a challenge that greets each of us all through our lives, and can only be conquered with God’s help … to put into practice His essential Commandment ”Love you neighbor as yourself!” So easy to quote … such a challenge to carry out, especially for our young, vulnerable children.
You are so right, Jackie. God’s command is so easy to quote, yet not so easy to live. Please pray for me: that I’m able to lead Jocelyn through her tween/teen years without judgement when she falters, providing only encouragement until she gets things right.