Once upon a time, a teenage girl named Beth lost her best friend to death. She mourned for a while, but it was hard to get over it. As a means of coping, she started talking and making fun of other people in the neighborhood or at church behind their backs.
She would mock the way people dressed or talked. She would notice who fell asleep at church and made sure she shared that with her family. As long as people were doing anything different from what she was doing, she made fun. She, by example, had other family members participate. She did not realize what she was doing.
When she tried talking with her father, he would not look at her. At one time he needed help, she offered it. But he would not accept her assistance. Her behavior displeased her father tremendously. He was very upset with her. He still provided for her. He still loved her. After all, she was his daughter. He knew she was ignorant, unknowing the consequences of her actions. He took up the task of teaching her. At first she did not understand. He was patient. He kept teaching and opening her eyes to see beyond what she knew. She finally understood.
Then she pleaded with tears in her eyes, “Daddy, please forgive me.” She repented of gossiping and tearing people apart. Because of his love, her father was faithful; accepted her apology and forgave her. He then restored the relationship between them.
As moderator, I’d like to interview both Beth and her father to see how this experience can help others.
Moderator: Beth, how did you feel when you were making fun of other people before you repented?
Beth: I did not think I was doing anything wrong. I thought I was having fun and bonding with family. It was all a joke to me. It made me feel better about myself especially after I lost my best friend.
Moderator: Did you learn something about yourself in the process?
Beth: I thought I was better than everyone else. I thought I was perfect. But in actuality, I was covering up my own insecurities and flaws because I did not want others to see my fears and pain.
Moderator: How did you feel when you lost your good standing with your father?
Beth: The Author of my life turned His face away from me. What a dark, sad time that was. I do not want to repeat it!
Moderator: Can you share what else you learned and the consequences?
Beth: There are spiritual ramifications of gossip and mocking others. Conceit is the first thing that takes place. Pride goes before the fall. One thing father taught me was that the father of pride is the evil one. If I do what he does, I become more like him. When I chose the evil one, I turned my back on my father. My father did not like to share me with the evil one. I had to make a choice and commit to it. The consequence was that other people gossiped about me and made fun of me behind my back. Once I repented, the vicious cycle stopped. My father was just.
Moderator: Obviously, you are not a teenager anymore. Why share this experience now?
Beth: I see it everywhere. I see gossip at school, at work, even at church. It is very rampant. I can understand places like the workplace and school, but church? Society deems it ‘politics’ at work. It saddens my heart as I am sure it saddens the father’s heart. He says that his children perish for lack of knowledge. I would not wish for any of my siblings to perish before their time.
Moderator: What would you advise people to do when tempted to gossip or to listen to gossip?
Beth: Point the finger at oneself first. Usually, this stops me from gossiping because I am still prone to it. When I test myself, I do it in light of the Bible. This way I won’t be too harsh or too lenient. I will be able to judge myself objectively. If this does not work, I would try to refocus on other things or thoughts. One of the things I can focus on in the other person is his or her positive features instead of his or her flaws. Walking away is the best solution when someone else begins to gossip. Confronting the other person may work depending upon how diplomacy is used. It takes wisdom.
Moderator: Thank you, Beth. Now I’d like to ask you as the father to share something with us.
Father: I love all of my children. I made each of them unique in their looks, feelings, and experiences. No two are alike. They may have similarities, but they also have differences.
The similarities were created to help them relate to each other. The differences were created so they would complement each other. I want them to know that they are not alone. They have a bigger family than they are aware of. Whatever they experience, they will find that someone else has the same experience and can support them. I provide. I provide whatever they need. But they must ask me. Not because I do not know. I know what they need. I just want them to be aware of what they need. I do not favor certain children over others.
If you ask, I will answer. Sometimes the answer may take a long time because of many factors. I give the best and this best needs to be prepared. If you want to know me more and come closer to me, I will make myself known to you. That is my heart’s desire. You, my children, are my heart. A relationship with you is far more important than anything else.
I wish to love you more than you can think or imagine. I wish to make your cup overflow with love. Once this relationship is established, then you can love your siblings. You will not have room to gossip nor make fun of others. Because you would have seen yourself in a true light and know that I accept you the way you are. Thus, you would be able to accept yourself the way you are and accept others as they are. This acceptance will give you room to become a better you. This attitude is contagious. It will be felt by your siblings and will encourage them to become better, too. Thank you, moderator, for the chance to share this experience.
Moderator: Thank you, Father, for revealing your heart.
As we approach the end of this segment, I’d like to add some thoughts. We have heard from Beth and her father. They bring a strong case against gossip and mocking others behind their back. Do you gossip? Do you like to gossip? Are you aware you are gossiping? If not, perhaps it is time to ask the Father to reveal if there is any wrongdoing in us. The choice is yours. You can follow the Loving Father or the evil one. He, who has ears, let him hear.