Rumor Has It: My Life with Twang

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Last week my life played a bit like a country music song, minus the banjo and cowboy hat.  My dog died, it would not stop raining, my mother-in-law (whom I love) came to visit, and the rumor around town was that my husband and I were divorcing.  Like a good twangy chorus the rumor involved a small town, the local grocery store, and church ladies.

I became aware of the gossip early Tuesday morning when a friend confided that somewhere between the bananas and the tampons, a mutual acquaintance whispered that Jason and I were splitting up and had to leave the church.  Hours later, my mom called to say she ran into a former co-worker by the cheese: apparently the whole fourth floor of the hospital had been abuzz about my divorce.  The evening concluded with a friend of a friend of a friend hugging my daughter by the protein shakes, and telling her just how sorry she was to hear that her parents were no longer together.  I was deep-fried and smothered in gravy.

Today someone asked me about the rumor, asking who would spread such a thing.  I knew who started it, but didn’t want to say.  Instead I tried to make a joke; “church ladies,” I jested, “who else.”  To which they responded, “that is why I will be looking for eggs and eating chocolate on Sunday.”
I wanted to explain that it was just a miscommunication, that I’m sure there was no intention of harm, but I was too ashamed.  Not ashamed of the rumor or the one who started it, but ashamed that my history includes many moments of indulging in nasty gossip.  Ashamed that I am one of those church ladies.
Jesus was often the subject of gossip on earth.  The crowds whispered when He spoke to the woman at the well, speculated when He forgave an adulteress, stirred the pot when He allowed a blind man to see, and spoke evil of Him when He offered a paralytic healing beyond the physical.   In his death, the whispers became shouts as they mocked Him on the cross.  When He rose from the dead the Pharisees counted on rumors to destroy belief; telling the men who guarded the tomb to say the Disciples had stolen the body.
Gossip stands in direct opposition to love.  While love hopes all things, gossip assumes the worst.  While love believes all things, gossip feeds on the negative possibilities.  While love holds no record of wrong, gossip binds its subject to previous offenses.  Jesus came in love.  He came with the hope of healing and the righteousness of God.  He died believing that we would be restored into relationship with the Father.  He rose defeating the power of sin, and creating the opportunity to be better in Him.
Those who opposed His ministry did so with gossip, and rumors, whispers behind His back.
It is in each of us to do the same.  Not in whispering about the Christ, but in speaking ill of those for whom He died.  We undermine love when we choose to believe the worst in one another, when we repeat one another’s transgressions, when we thrive off the negative in one another’s life.  If we can look at the crucifixion without the conviction of love for one another as Christ loved us, we might as well go back to eating chocolate and hunting for eggs.
We celebrate today that Christ died for us, but not for us only.  We have the opportunity to extend grace to one another (as it has been extended to us) by believing and hoping all things, by expunging all records of wrongs, by choosing love over gossip.
I don’t suspect that I will ever be perfect in this.  I suppose the next time a juicy tid-bit comes my way, my ear will bend that direction.  But I hope that I will get better.  That in the battle of grace and gossip, love will truly win.