Ephesians 4:31 (MSG) Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk.
The utter euphoria of being kid free and able to enjoy a latte – or something stronger – with my girlfriends could be an Olympic sport. We volley topics back and forth like pros guffawing at something hilarious that’s shared, doubled over in deep belly laughter, some snorting out loud at the banter and hysterical stories shared. We are well aware it’s obnoxious to others – middle age housewives and working mommas free of their offspring and intent on having a good time enjoying the rare moments to just be a bunch of girls loving the company.
Even in our Bible study, on a message thread or just a few gathering in the gym lobby, the connection my friends have is something I don’t take lightly. It’s special. The joy in sharing life with girlfriends is precious – and the space in which we gather sacred.
But time and again I have been saddened to hear the deeper topics we waded through in what I thought was confidence were re-hashed with another girl or even worse another group.
Well those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
There are times looking back through the years I really don’t want on my highlight reel of life. In fact I’d rather forget the times I have brought up another’s struggles to others. When I’ve regurgitated a sensitive situation all in the name of sharing for her good. I mean, aren’t we supposed to pray for one another? And how can we do that if we don’t tell their story?
That’s totally alright as a God Girl, right?
Nope. Not at all.
But so quickly fun silliness with several females with the gift of gab can turn on a dime to idle chatter.
Oversharing of other’s sacred stories.
Tiptoeing with a teaser of another’s woes because it’s just too good not to share in a group.
Sometimes a glass of wine loosens lips so indiscretion is ignored and all of the sudden a private conversation becomes public fodder.
Gossip. From the beginning of time it’s bitten the blessing of female relationships in the rear.
What we justify as concern for another be it who is cheating, who is doing questionable activities, who’s kid is a total terror at daycare or who is having financial difficulties. You name it . The list of topics for gossip never exhausts itself.
Stylish craftsman finished doors decorated with pretty Etsy wreaths disguise never ending garbage. Garbage we slip right into sharing as though we are talking about the weather or Little League.
And I’ve justified talking about another’s garbage as truth sharing or concern for a sister.
Bless her heart y’all. If we talk about it then surely we’ll pray for her and that makes it all good, right?
But I’m sure that’s not news. Unfortunately in the moment we can forget there are unspoken rules for when good girls gather whether we want to acknowledge them or not.
And when we are gathered around a sturdy table sharing laughs, life and loves (and some total opposite of love stories too from ex’s to in-law’s) it’s so easy to slip in that moment and share in the spirit of storytelling.
Even if it’s not our story to tell.
I’ve felt the runaway story where I’m word vomiting another’s private story knowing full well I’ve overstepped boundaries, but boy the laughter is like truth serum. Even if it is another girl’s truth. Lord forgive me.
So can we agree on a few things friends? If we all go into conversations holding to the sacredness of protecting each other’s stories then maybe we can start chipping away at gossip, comparison, jealously and all of the other ugliness that hover where even Good Girls gather.
And if we know our friends hold these House Rules tight in their hearts to guard their mouths too then won’t we have more genuine conversations? More honest talks? Be real versus just real fun? And isn’t that the whole point why we are here to support one another?
House Rules where Good Girls Gather: Before sharing another’s story does it meet these criteria?
A. This conversation right now if printed in the newspaper with you as the primary source will not embarrass either of you.
B. If the girl you are talking about were right next to you she would encourage you to continue talking about her situation or story.
C. You will not have to defend your allegiance to a friendship later if the story you are repeating returns to the girl you are talking about and she knows you told it.
Let’s be honest. How do you feel about others talking about you, your marriage, your children, your finances, your weaknesses with you not present?
Honestly I cringe a bit.
Do you trust your “inner circle” to always have your back with the criteria listed above? How are you as a “wing-woman” to your friends protecting their backs when they aren’t around and their marriage, children, finances or weaknesses become the chatter at hand?
If you cringed at the discomfort of that thought, I bet you’re a pretty good friend. And isn’t that truly what we all want to be? And isn’t that also what we are trying to raise in our children? Especially the next generation of women?
So these are some life lessons I’m sharing with my children and most certainly weaving into conversations with my daughter covering topics from mean girls, to sister friends, to sacred trust and girl power. Feel free to share or in the comment section add in some of your “Rules of Friendship” ideals you are imparting in your kids.
- No story shared may ever be justified with “let me tell you what’s going on with our friend so and so that we may pray for her.”
- Never start a story with “Well I really shouldn’t be telling you this but . . . ” No! That’s called a red flag. That’s a self imposed mouth guard moment. Just stop.
- No story must be told to utter completion – you are allowed to stop, hand to mouth and say “You know what? This really isn’t my story to share.”
- Realize the group talking about another who is not present will just as easily talk about you when you are not present.
- It is very difficult to say “Y’all, so and so isn’t here so I don’t think she’d want us talking about her.” Difficult, yes. Impossible, no. Character building, you bet.
** Now those who like to play devil’s advocate you’re saying “but what if it’s life and death Kristin?” Yes, granted there are always exceptions in life, but I sure hope if we are talking postpartum or something that has a mother at high risk to hurt herself or her child, you’ll be speaking to her spouse, parent or a proper authority and not a playground mommy group.
Evaluate the need for full disclosure before the friendship is damaged and a reputation harmed due to our unchecked words and overstepped boundaries.