The Sting of Gossip


Yes, gossip stings. But affirming words can be just as powerful!

Oh, mamas. This is a tough topic! If only we could keep our baby girls from feeling the sting of gossip and hurtful words. When my oldest darling was in kindergarten, she was one of the quieter kiddos in class. Being quiet allowed her to observe all kinds of details about others, and she determined pretty quickly whom she wanted to play with during recess.

One of the girls in her class didn’t care for my daughter. Every day, my little girl would climb into my car and share what difficult experience had transpired during class that day. One day, she climbed into my car in tears. It broke my heart. Of course, I was concerned and asked her to tell me what was wrong.

Now, I have to interject into my story for a moment to tell you that my husband and I are die-hard Aggies. I loved Tracy Steel’s blog post on “God Honoring Competition!” We like to joke in the south that we’re all sweet, Southern girls—that is, until football season begins.

I grew up in Louisiana, but something went awry in my genetic makeup—as I don’t bleed LSU purple. I bleed maroon! My parents will tell you I always wanted to go to Texas A&M, so it was a huge blessing when my family relocated to Texas in high school. That dream became a reality. My husband and I have done our best to share our love of Aggieland with our girls. I even played the Aggie War Hymn in the car on the way to work every day when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter.  No judging!  As a result of our *ahem* subtle coaching, my oldest darling wasn’t (and isn’t) shy about supporting the Texas Aggies.

Now, back to my story…my daughter said this little girl from her class had called her an ugly name all day at school. She even told other friends in class that my daughter was this bad word, and they all started calling her this name. Well, I admit I was none too curious what awful word had circulated in the kindergarten classroom that day.

I asked my daughter if she could tell me what the word was, and she shook her head vigorously saying, “No! It’s too bad to say out loud.” I thought for a moment. She sniffled from the backseat and softly said, “I think I could draw if for you, mommy.” Now, I was really stumped.

I fished a piece of paper and a pen out of my purse and handed them back to my little girl. After a few minutes, she passed the paper back to me. I remember staring at the paper and turning it to see if I could make out the word she had drawn as a picture for me.

“Is it a ghost?” I asked. “No,” she replied. I stared for a moment longer. Then, it dawned on me.

“Is it a longhorn?” I asked. My sweet baby girl burst into tears and cried, “Yes! Isn’t it awful?” (For those who don’t follow college football, Texas A&M’s primary rival for years and years was the Texas Longhorns.)

I tried to hide my smile while replying, “Aw, honey. That would have hurt my feelings, too.”

My husband and I still chuckle at this story, but this was really my oldest daughter’s first encounter with gossip. Words have power, and ugly words can leave a permanent scar on our hearts. Some of us spend years trying to overcome the hurt of words we heard as young girls.

You’ve heard the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” It’s so not true. Words have immense power.  God literally spoke our world into being. The passage above from Proverbs reminds us how damaging gossip can be.

As funny as the story above was to my husband and me, we used the experience to help our daughter learn the importance of imparting words of affirmation versus hurling harmful insults. Choosing to use words to affirm instead of using them to wound is a life lesson that we can’t stress enough with our daughters.  Join me in praying for our daughters that God will protect their hearts from scarring jabs meant to tear them down and instill in them the truth that God created them with a very loving and mighty purpose.

Yes, mamas.  We know gossip stings, but affirming words can be just as powerful.

Written by Catherine Bird

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