Monday, August 23, 2010

Spiritual Posion Ivy

I was pulling out poison ivy in the woodsy areas of our property over a month ago. I never used to get much more than a couple of dots or a light rash, but still I am careful using plastic on my arms when wrestling with the stuff. I did not get any reaction at all that time. About three weeks later I did some more, but apparently I was not as careful and more apparently, I have a greater reaction to it than I used to have! YIKES!

Wednesday night at our prayer meeting, I felt the Lord tell me to ask everyone to pray over me. The rash on my neck was the worst of it all, very swollen and raw. The swelling was gone in just two days and now it is just a bit pink and with dry skin. Now this is miraculous because I am probably the slowest of healers on the planet...I am kidding, of course...well, not completely. Anyway, I was just amazed! The rash on my arms was better also. I thought it was going to all heal quickly, but then, for reasons unknown, the arm rashes worsened and I began finding new patches in various areas of my body. Yes, I have washed my body and all my clothes, but I think I might have been getting new irritations from my bed sheets, so they were washed also.

Today my arms are swollen and feel on fire much of the time. Yes, I am pretty miserable, but I believe that all things have a purpose, something from which I can or should learn. I have not been disappointed; through our talks, God has related this outbreak of poison ivy to outbreaks of a spiritual poison ivy: gossip.

Gossip needn't be false to be evil - there's a lot of truth that shouldn't be passed around. ~Frank A. Clark

Most gossip is not vicious and some is not even ill-willed. People talk and write about other people all the time. It is part of our human condition. It is how history is recorded. It is human nature. It is inescapable. If it were not so, there would not even be personal blogs, for whom gets written about the most but members of our own families?

The question then is when does conversation turn to gossip? When is there impropriety in talking about another person? Where is that boundary? I don't know that I have all the answers on this one and I am sure that one could Google and find a check list as to what qualifies as gossip, but I am refraining from looking one up and just writing what the Lord has placed on my heart this day.

Gossip is not always what is said, although if something is told that was to remain in confidence, it would qualify. Gossip is not always about what how much is said, although one should know when something should be left unsaid. Gossip is not always about how it is said, although when anyone starts talking with a side look about someone else or hiding their mouth, you know that is going to be gossip--yes, you do, even if you are the one doing it!

Whenever someone has that body language of passing gossip, regardless of what she says, I am more upset about the fact she is gossiping than about the whatever and whoever. I do not like being a part to it, but worse, it tells me about the spiritual state of that person--probably something she would not want me to share with others. Ironic, isn't that?

Gossip is more about attitude than content, however gossip is also quite simply that thing that should be left unsaid regarding another person, usually a mutual acquaintance.

Another thing, the person gossiping does so with the intention of causing others to side with her judgment about the person whom is being discussed and that may not be about disparaging a person's reputation at all. However, it could still be gossip if I end up knowing more about a person that would not be obvious, before that person herself provided me with the information. Now when someone lives in the public eye some things are just going to be known about a person whether she meant for it to be public or not, however that does not give us the right to pry beyond what is public; even public figures should have a right to a private life.

The bad part about gossip is that once it is out there, it cannot be recalled. Whether truth or fiction, it spreads like wildfire outside of the initiator's control and crops back up unexpectedly just like my poison ivy rashes. The poison ivy plant has no intention of being out to get me, but it does damage, just as gossip will...even when done with "good intentions."

The very services that connect us on the Internet, are also services that can be used for gossiping. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard about entire families squabbling on Facebook walls or former friends trashing each other on MySpace or just a picture posted that causes others to question that person's character, quite publicly...for all the world to see. Fair game and, oh, such juicing material for gossiping!

For Christians, it is a not that difficult to know whether what we are about to pass along is gossip or not. We should just ask ourselves if it is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, has excellence, and is worthy of praise for these are the things on which we are to dwell as suggested in Philippians 4:8. I can promise you that poison ivy is not there, but even poison ivy has a purpose in God's creation in teaching us about how such an innocent thing can cause so much pain when we just brush up against it.

~ My Lord, I appreciate the reminder of how gossip is like poison ivy and how terribly uncomfortable it is to have poison ivy rashes, so if You feel these rashes have served their purpose, could You please now relieve me of them? ~


  1. Um, yes.....Nothing much to say to all that, is there?

  2. Yeah, it's another conversation killer, it seems.

  3. Very wise words indeed Linda. My dh used to say, "What you say about others says more about you than it does about them." The man has his faults, but he is one smart cookie for sure;-D

  4. I definitely agree with that saying, Persuaded.


Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.