Last year, I learned one of the most important and difficult lessons in my life. Though countless trials have been due to mistakes I’ve made, this wasn’t one of them; it wasn’t because of something I did wrong. The situation was one of the hardest I’ve ever had to face, and it taught me something that only experience can. The lesson I learned was that gossip can hurt. Rumors, true or not, can ruin hard-built reputations, and the only way to combat them is to face the giant. I learned through experience that, just like young David when he faced Goliath, I could overcome the challenge with God’s guidance.
One Sunday night, my parents called me into their room to talk. I didn’t expect it to be a big deal, much less something as huge as it was, but I knew when I saw their faces that it was more serious than I had thought.
They told me that my boyfriend had been accused of something awful, and that multiple people had approached them about it. It wasn’t as if this was within my class or even my school; it was now a community-wide rumor, and even trustworthy people who don’t make a practice of gossiping were informed and questioning this one’s truthfulness. My parents had to tell me that my boyfriend–the one I had picked so carefully– was now in jeopardy of having his Christian reputation crumbled, and mine tainted with shame despite the fact that, even if the rumor had been true, I wasn’t at fault.
I was in shock. I felt as if there were a huge weight on my chest making it hard to breathe. What I thought, I thought fragments of thoughts: “How—no—he couldn’t—school tomorrow—reputation—‘God doesn’t tempt us above what we are able’—Why?”
Even before the initial shock of the news was over, I knew what I had to do. Though my parents offered to let me stay home from school the next day, I knew that if I did, it would only give the rumor fuel to grow. I had to face this problem, and I couldn’t do it alone. I prayed and prayed that night. The next morning, with slightly puffy eyes, I lifted my chin and walked into school, determined to beat this rumor. I caught classmates’ meaningful looks and whispers to each other, perhaps imagined, as I walked the halls the next day, but I stuck it out. It wasn’t easy. Little things, like a knowing friend patting my shoulder, wordlessly telling me that it was going to be alright, made me want to curl up and cry until the whole thing had blown over. I didn’t, though. Even when a particularly cruel classmate made an outright joke about it during English class, I held it together and, at least for the most part, kept my cool.
The first day was by far the hardest, and though it took a while for things to get “back to normal”, the rumor eventually died down. After realizing that my boyfriend and I weren’t breaking up, most dismissed it as untrue.
Facing this giant was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It taught me so much more about being “patient in tribulation” (Rom. 12:12) than anything but experience ever could. During the time that I was feeling alone and lost, I found comfort in the pages of my Bible and peace by laying all my worries and fear at God’s feet in prayer.
If you have been gossiped about, whether the rumor was true or not, remember that you are not alone. Even if you have done nothing wrong and the rumor seems horrible and impossible to overcome, if you face it bravely and look to God for strength and comfort, you can conquer it. Your family in Christ will always be there as a support for you to lean on.
As young Christians, we should always remember the advice found in Eph. 4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” After all, “for lack of wood the fire goes out,” (Prov. 26:20) and hurtful rumors die if they are not spread.