Pastoral Ponderings..February 2015

Dear God,

        What do you do, Lord, with negative or gossiping people?  Every family has them.  Every organization has them.  Every church has them.  So, what do you do with them?

     We all know the scripture which says, “Wherever two or more are gathered, there am I.”  I suspect, though it is not a quite from scripture, there would also be a passage which reads, “Wherever three or more are gathered, there’s likely to be a gossip or negative person.” 

     They’re present in local civic groups and world-wide organizations, on village boards and in the United Nations.  The local fire department has them as well as the Hotshots who battle forest fires… local police departments and the international collaboration of UN peacekeepers.  Five-star generals are  no more exempt than a private…and a fleet admiral is just as susceptible as a sailor recruit.

     You’ll find them in every PTA, civic group, American Legion/VFW, school board and other organization that attempt to get things done.  In groups organized around the truest of values and purposes…they are there.  I’ll get in trouble, but it seems that women are more “gossipy” than men (although in past churches I’ve known some farmers who could hold their own with anyone when they get together at the feed mill) but negativity knows no such pattern.

     Teachers tell me the teachers lounge can be a hotbed for gossip or negative people.  With students, I’m told, they are everywhere with middle school being at the top of the bell curve.  Just when kids are trying to form an identity, define themselves, and search for self-confidence and identity they get pummeled by negative or gossiping peers.

     Kid’s are worn down…sometimes to the point of giving up…and too often we read statistics about young people from grade school to college dorms taking their lives because of negative or gossiping people around them.  The advent of the internet has made this all the more painful and breath-taking with “cyber-bullying” growing as an evil epidemic in this age range.

     It’s behind the scenes or in the shadows that gossip and negativity thrive.  This is a big part of the problem because since it’s not quite in the open there is always “plausible deniability” even though “everyone knows” who’s negative or gossiping.  When a car is leaking oil the mechanic can look and see specifically what needs to be fixed or replaced, but there is no simple “fix” nor any proclamation or even kindness that can actually stop the problem of negativity and gossip.

     I don’t think negative or gossipy people are born, but perhaps some have it in their personality structure to be more prone to it.  The problem is that there’s little motivation to change for some people because the internal rewards, while twisted to many, are high to the individual.  People seem to relish their role as “heralds of the truth” or carry a twisted sense of power and righteousness or righteous indignation which supports their words/actions.

          I’m shocked, Lord, that you can’t do anything about this issue.  After all, you formed the Earth and gave it the first revolution with your mighty hand.  You formed the galaxy and the galaxies beyond sight and filled the planet with creatures of all shapes and sizes.  You created the suns and the moons and the stars, and planets too far and diverse for us to even imagine…yet you seem incapable of changing this reality within the life of a group of people. 

     I have learned to look to your Holy Spirit to be the transforming power of life.  You are known to me in the Holy Spirit which sustains me and gives me the power to change.  I have seen the Holy Spirit in people giving them strength and hope in even the most difficult and seemingly hopeless situations, yet it would seem that nothing can be done to stop negative or gossipy people.

     Everybody asks the question but nobody wants to ask it out loud so allow me to ask, Lord…What do you do with negative or gossipy people?  I guess all you do is give us the opportunity to be positive and change, and I guess that opportunity is our hope.

     As always, thanks for listening.  I love you.  By the way, did you hear about…?      

                                                                                                                                                           Dan