She walks by and I turn the other way. I’ve heard stories about her. She goes from man to man. Always throwing herself at them. Chewing up their hearts and spitting them out.
And those clothes! She is always dressed to the nines. Only the most expensive items. Who knows how she affords them. I don’t think she works. She probably steals them.
Her kids are awful. Always throwing tantrums in the store. Why doesn’t she discipline them? Or maybe she over-disciplines them … maybe they just need love.
I’ve never really talked with her. Someone introduced us once, but I don’t really know much about her. Only what I’ve heard through the rumor mill.
I remember that old game we used to play at camp. Remember telephone? Someone starts the game with a short and simple phrase. By the time it transports through everyone, the message is completely different. A little exaggerated. Never trustworthy.
Life is like that. It’s so easy to get caught up in the rumor mill. Spreading stories about whoever walks by. Sometimes they’re good stories – sometimes bad … but most of the time they aren’t our stories to tell.
It’s human nature to compare ourselves. To make ourselves look better than our neighbor. Often we don’t mean to spread lies – we just want people to like us. They’ll like us more if we have more information than they do. They’ll think we trust them. They’ll feel important.
And we will have a friend. Or at least we think we do. Until they end up spreading lies about us.
Because that’s how the rumor mill works.
Maybe society is partially to blame. All those commercials telling us what we need to be happy. If we don’t have the hottest item on the market then we are second rate. If we don’t look like the magazines then we are not beautiful. Why would anyone be our friend? We’re not worth it.
But isn’t that where faith in Christ comes in? Christ promises to make us a new creation. We are worth it … not because we are skinny or rich, but because he says so.
And he doesn’t play favorites – that woman that I keep telling stories about – she’s just as worthy as me. Maybe those stories aren’t even truth. Or maybe they are – and she needs someone to love her through it all.
When we truly claim our identity as beloved child of God, we no longer need the rumor mill. We don’t have to make ourselves look better than others – because we know that we are all the same. Instead of spreading the stories, we choose to stop them. And maybe we even reach out to the one being talked about. Extend a prayer, a hug, a welcoming smile.
I’ll admit it … I’m guilty of it. Without meaning to, I dive right in and help the mill keep on running.
Then I remember what it felt like to be the one talked about. I claim my identity as child of God and vow to make it stop.
The rumor mill. It has to stop. As followers of Christ, we’re called to stop it. Won’t you help me?