When I was in high school, I was a terrible gossip. I remember the day I got my Patriarchal blessing and the Lord told me to stop gossiping, I felt so lost. I had no idea how to do that! I honestly thought that if I stopped gossiping, I would have to remain silent the rest of my life. But slowly God taught me how to stop gossiping and how to become the woman He had in mind. I want to share my journey with you in hopes that the lessons it took me years to figure out will come more quickly to you and be easier for you to implement in your life.
WHY Are You Gossiping?
I love the podcast Better Than Happy with Jody Moore. She teaches me so much about how my mind works. I recommend you find her on your favorite platform and listen because she will teach you so much. Today I listened to Episode 174 about gossiping, and it inspired this article because I wanted to expand on what she said.
In Episode 174, Jody points out that gossip is often a habit, but that it’s also a tool many of us use to connect with each other. Sometimes gossip is a form of entertainment. Personally, I have had all three reasons to gossip in the past. I mean, I was so interested in “Brangelina” and their adopted kids for so long that I would buy any magazine that mentioned them. And Prince Harry and Megan Markle? Come on! Who didn’t find themselves glued to the TV when they got married? It was amazing!
So in my personal quest to stop gossiping, I had to ask myself why I was gossiping. For me, it was often a way to connect and sometimes to vent. When you feel wronged, you want someone else to tell them you that you are right, and that the other person is a jerk — I mean, who doesn’t, right? But in this thought process, I found that I was damaging relationships when I gossiped.
Gossip Damages Relationships
Getting back to Jody Moore, because she said it so beautifully, “Gossip is a false temporary pleasure” that damages relationships. I had ladies at work that I would gossip with at lunch. We would sit around and tear others down for whatever reason, and I thought we were bonding.
But honestly, I could never tell them anything real about my life because I knew it would get ground up into the rumor mill. Even though we were trying to find connection, we were destroying any chance at really becoming friends — and we didn’t even realize it.
The worst relationship that gossip messes up is your relationship with Heavenly Father. There is a bad spirit that comes from gossiping. I can’t name it, but who hasn’t walked into a room and just known that everyone had been talking about them moments before? It’s a tangible feeling and it doesn’t feel good. It makes it hard to trust those people afterward. And as Jody points out, it takes us further away from our Heavenly Father.
How to Fix It
So how do we find the connections we are seeking while building and maintaining the Spirit and the relationships in our lives? In my personal journey, I looked for role models of whom I wanted to be. I have three women I want to focus on for a minute because they exemplified the lessons that helped me find real meaning in my life and helped me to break the gossip cycle. I will call these women Jean, Sue, and Jerri. Each of them gave me a tool for my journey.
Jean has a quiet peace about her. I remember watching her as we sat in church. She would be attentive to the speakers, encouraging with her eye contact and the smile on her face. She often went up to them afterward and complimented their talk. From her I learned that to overcome gossip and be a true friend, you need to listen, truly listen, to the other person. Nothing in life bonds two people more than being able to trust that the other person will listen.
Sharing concerns, being able to bounce ideas off each other, and knowing that you are safe doing so is the foundation for a great friendship. So if or when you are looking to change your style of communication, start by really listening to others. They will notice the change and appreciate it.
Sue was a wonderful mentor in my life at a key time when I needed someone badly. She invited me over weekly to do crafts and visit. I learned so many cool things from her and cherished our conversations. She genuinely cared about what I had to say, and shared level-headed advice that helped me find my footing in my early life. Her caring nature gave me the second tool I offer to you today.
Genuine caring will replace the key reward that gossip gives us — a feeling of connection. That genuine care replaces any negative with a positive and allows the Spirit of God to be part of your friendship in a way that gossip never can.
For any change in life to become permanent, you need to replace the old thing with a new one, or that hole will just pull you back into your old bad habit. As I have gotten to know Jerri, I have learned the biggest key to fighting gossip — speaking about positive things.
I love being around Jerri because she is always positive. Yes, she has problems, some of which are heartbreaking. But she doesn’t complain and chooses instead to talk about the good parts of life. That positive outlook extends to people, too. And I find her spirit is so bright and full of love that I want to be around her all the time. She is the kind of woman I want to be.
In examining my friendship with Jerri, I find that her positive nature is the fuel for the bright spiritual fire in her heart. There isn’t a single interaction where I haven’t noticed the light in her face. Heavenly Father is close to Jerri because she seeks for the good everywhere she goes. It creates a peace and power that you can feel when you are around her.
It’s Worth the Work
It can be intimidating to make a change. When I first heard the Lord tell me to stop gossiping, I felt lost as to where to begin. But as I have looked for those opportunities to change and become more like Him, He has shone more light in my path.
I promise you that it’s worth the work. You may not know where to begin, and you may have to start over a thousand times. I know I have. But as we seek for a more positive interaction with the world, we will receive more of Heavenly Father’s spirit, and more of His presence. It’s a gift worth seeking.
Let’s be honest: gossip creates a false feeling of friendship. On the other hand, genuine care, listening, and positive interaction creates the kind of godly friendships that stand the test of time. I invite you to join me on my journey to stop gossiping. I am not perfect and I still have more work to do. But every time I succeed, the Lord blesses me with a greater portion of His spirit. It’s the kind of reward you can’t find anywhere else. You can do this! I have confidence in you.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.