If you’re going to ask “why?” you had better be prepared for an honest answer.
Last week, my friend and I were joking around about reasons why we wouldn’t date each other, and upon my pressing him as to why, he said, “because you gossip.”
Well, I’ve heard that one a million times before, and in way more serious settings than this lighthearted conversation, mind you, but for some reason this is the one that stuck. Even though it was lighthearted, the criticism came from a place of honesty, and (I’m assuming) a place of love. Hear me out.
It’s not something I’m proud of, but yes, gossiping is something that I do on the regular. I don’t want to be untrustworthy, but I have been. It’s a habit I need to change, before people start making gossip synonymous with my name. “That’s Maria. She has brown hair, she likes Gilmore Girls, oh and she gossips.”
I’m sure we all have character flaws like this. You might also be prone to gossip. There are a multitude of sins like this that I don’t have to name, just something that you do often enough that it has become a hindrance in your life.
Acknowledging our bad behaviors is not to say that we’re horrible people. There are reasons we are the way we are, reasons why we act the way we do. But for some of us, certain struggles are magnified, they are greater for us than for other people.
I know that in my heart of hearts that I don’t want to be a gossip, that it’s something that I need to work on, and the reason I get upset or dismissive when people mention it is because that’s simply the easier option. “You’re wrong,” “you don’t know me well enough,” and “I don’t care what you think” are all things that I’ve said far too often, and things that I don’t want to say anymore.
This reminds me of a verse that one of my good friends showed me, a verse that has not since left me: “Search me, O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24).
Of course, I want this test to be easy. I want God to point out things in me that offend Him and not be offended myself. Yet, when He does, I’m inclined to ignore Him because I’m not really prepared to change whatever the problem is.
When Christ, or someone I know, points out something in me that offends them, I have to be compassionate with their concerns. I have to listen and grow from their words in order to be led along the path of everlasting life.
When I asked my friend “why?” I genuinely wanted to know his answer. I was prepared this time, unlike other times when people have told me how I offend or bother them without my asking. Yet I could not have been prepared for the way I felt afterwards: as if it had finally gotten through to me.
I know that I won’t immediately just erase all of my bad habits by acknowledging them. But acknowledging that I am not perfect and that maybe others can see my flaws is a step further than any I’ve ever taken. I may not be able to fix my problems, but I want to be able to heed the words of others and of Christ when they point out my flaws so that I can earnestly repent and turn to Christ.
So the next time someone tells us something about ourselves that we didn’t want to know, or have heard but not taken seriously before, we shouldn’t just throw it by the wayside. We should take it, look at it, and decide what to do with it. Because they might not be telling us something meaningless. They might not be trying to mess with us, or upset us. They might be leading us to salvation.
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Maria is the Administrative Coordinator of Y2AM. She is a New York native who isn't completely sold on the city's charm, yet has never left. A proud graduate of Fordham University and occasional runner, she is happiest whenever chocolate, a sale, or a good Gilmore Girls reference is involved.