If you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say it at all!
That is what my Momma used to say. And you know what? She was right!
This morning I was behind two women who were gossiping about another gal. It was clear to me they did not know her… but for some reason, the sight of her got their hackles up. They began to make fun of her, being openly hostile toward the way she looked, and how she was dressed. They were projecting their voices making sure that the entire world could hear them… including the lady, they were talking about. I couldn’t believe the vile that was laughingly spilling from their lips as the target of their aggression simply… tried… to… ignore… them.
Shockingly the catty women and their target were in their mid-fifties if not older. As I walked behind them contemplating if a WWE body slam was appropriate and if I would get arrested, I couldn’t help but wonder what their problem was? You see by my age, and older, I would think that we women have come to an understanding that while different we are all very much alike. We long to be loved, understood, and to feel beautiful. As mature women we have all experienced insecurity, struggled to believe we are good enough, wrestled with feelings of unworthiness, loneliness, and felt the sting of rejection. We’ve fought the battle of the bulge, the aging reflection in the mirror, hot flashes, and night sweats. We’ve loved and we’ve lost. Frankly, we women are far more similar than we are different.
So, my question remains… why? Why would two women be so cruel, so catty, so rude, so EVIL to another? And that is my answer. Evil likely fueled by insecurity. We so often forget that the devil takes great delight in division. We are most like him (yep him as in the devil) when we allow our words to be used to tear down, criticize, judge, and berate another human being. A being whom Psalm 139 declares is fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together in their mother’s womb. A being who is of great worth and value in Gods sight and according to John 3:16 worth dying for! We forget our words are weapons. They are daggers sharp enough to rip out another person’s heart and crush their spirit. Words stick to our soul and replay in our minds. It’s our own insecurity that drives us to disparage another. You see when we take delight in gossiping and making fun of someone it is a sign that there is something broken in us. There is something we are lacking, struggling with, or some lie we believe about our own worth and value that is somehow soothed by beating down someone else. It gives us a feeling of power and supremacy that calms our anxious thoughts.
Ladies, we can stop this! We can rise above the temptation to be catty or a gossip and protect our sisters! How? Here’s what works for me…
- Listen intentionally to the words that come out of your mouth! Judgment, criticism, catty, snarky, sarcasm, whatever… they all flow from our heart. When we hear it, stop and ask yourself:
- What am I feeling? (Am I anxious, hurt, insecure, etc?)
- Why? What happened that made me feel this way?
- Is it something recent or is this a trigger from the past that you have yet to heal from?
- Wrestle with the issue!
- Search for what’s true – so often our peace is stolen by the lies we believe about our own worth and value.
- Forgive if you need to forgive.
- Fill yourself up with positive affirmations. I love to repeat what God says is true of me… after all he created me so his thoughts about me count more than any other! His Word defeats the lies that stir my insecurity.
- LEAD. Be willing to do the right thing!
- Don’t participate in gossip.
- Be willing to, in love and maybe with humor, call out the cattiness.
Above all else practice kindness. Realize that every person is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Treat them as you want to be treated. And remember my Momma’s advice, if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say it at all.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)