Heard It Through The Grapevine


"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up." - Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

I recently received an unexpected email from a woman I went to high school with over twenty years ago. She had seen my name mentioned in the alumni updates of the school newspaper, and thought it might be nice to drop an old (no pun intended) classmate a line. We shared a few emails; talking about life then and now. I was surprised to hear that during her high school years she endured a very difficult situation; living with abusive and alcoholic parents. I told her that my own high school years were not very warmly regarded either, and my own pain was at the hands, or more accurately, the mouths, of some of my own peers. This particular group of girls seemed to relish gossip. Didn't matter if it was true or false; as long as it was juicy, it was worth repeating. While they were wagging their tongues about someone else, it didn't really matter, but once I became their target, it was then I realized how hurtful spreading rumors can be. During my Freshman and Sophomore years I was quite naive and shy, thus, I was not the most popular kid in school. I suppose the rumor started when someone noticed I wasn't yet dating, didn't really talk to the boys in the halls, and my best friend, Jean, and I, seemed inseparable. Someone with an over-active imagination decided that I didn't date boys because I didn't like boys, if you get my drift?

During those two years, Jean and I endured so much blatant name-calling and whispers behind our backs that she began to hate school. At the end of Junior year, Jean graduated early. She had her fill.

I began to blossom, both physically and emotionally, in Junior and Senior year, and although I found no boy worthy to date steadily, I began to have guy friends. Much to my chagrin, the rumors did not cease, but the same group of girls decided to move me from one end of the spectrum to the other. In short, they attacked my honor and morals, now saying I liked boys too much! I assume that bit of gossip grew wings after a boy had given me a ride home from my first official high school party. He asked me for a kiss. I declined. He returned to the party. Turns out, wanting to preserve his own reputation as a ladies man, he made our ride home sound more eventful than what it was.

I was glad to finally graduate from high school, but the most significant lessons I learned were not those taught by any teacher. I learned to not judge until I found out the facts straight from the horses mouth, and to take every bit of gossip with a grain of salt. As I grew older, wiser and stronger, I made the decision to not give tale-bearers a forum unless the person they were attacking was also present. Funny how those formerly eager horn-blowers suddenly fell silent!

Now a mother, I have, at times, witnessed my own children and some of their friends, stung on occasion, by the pang of hurtful tale-bearers. Sometimes, I have even had to chastise them for being a part of the gossip. Soon, school will be back in session, and I can only wonder how the young people of our community will walk in to school, with head held high, or in defense posture to ward off possible verbal blows.

Engaging in conversation with friends is a joy! However, the very nature of gossip and rumor is that it is information which may or may not be true. The rumor may have some shred of truth to it, but with each person it was passed along to, the story took on a whole new meaning, just like that game you play where someone whispers a phrase in your ear, and you have to pass it down the line from person to person. By time the phrase gets down to the last person, it sounds nothing like it originally began!

Be a real friend. If you must say something about another person behind their back then it probably isn't worth repeating.

Spiritual application: Did you know that the words our mouth utters tell a lot about the type of person we are? The true contents of our heart has a funny way of slipping out even when we think no one is listening. However, someone IS watching. God. And it grieves God to know that His children are walking about hurting one another, rather than concerning themselves with what is more important; our own relationship with Him. While we are busy whispering about this or that person who had a secret affair, or the unmarried girl down the street who is pregnant, there are brothers and sisters out in the world who are suffering and thirsty for the attention of a truly caring friend.

Our words and actions can be used for great good, or they can be used to cause injury to others.

Today, if your words have been used for an ungodly purpose, won't you consider asking God for forgiveness? Erase hurt and replace it with God's glory!

Melanie Schurr Copyright 1998 JoyfulMelanie@aol.com

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