The other day I met up with a friend from church, JP, for coffee, and, as you do, we got talking. Sooner or later, she started telling me what someone #1 had told her what someone #2 had told them. A certain man at our church is rather disliked by someone #1 for saying something slightly unkind about their father, and someone #1 told my friend that this man was getting an African mail order bride who was somewhere between the ages of 12 and 20, who couldn't speak English, whom he'd never met before, and who was being paid for in cattle and sheep. I found this almost unbelievable and shocking, and just a little bit disgusting, and listened in awe.
But when I went away, I started feeling really guilty for letting JP tell me this. It was absolutely none of my business and I shouldn't have listened. Someone #1 has a bit of a knack for exaggeration and I shouldn't have even considered it to be reliable until I heard anything about this that wasn't gossip.
Well, tonight I heard from the man himself, and I came away feeling even more guilty. The woman this man might become engaged to is African, but apart from that, nothing JP told me was true. She speaks good English, she and this man met in Africa, she's definitely over 20, and she is most definitely not a mail order bride. I can't believe that the gossip I heard was so far removed from the truth. Usually gossip has some element of truth in it, but this - definitely not. It's really taught me a lesson. I guess one of the things I dislike the most about gossip is that it leaves you unable to form your own impression of a person; your first acquaintance with them will always be marred by someone else's negative words. In this case, there wasn't even an ounce of truth in what I heard. I can really see why God hates gossip so much now. From now on, I want to really try never to gossip myself, or to allow anyone to gossip to me.