An older woman in my family once told me a story about her time at a church-affiliated southern college that I’ve never been able to forget. It surfaces for me whenever there is inappropriate public talk about private grief. Like pornography, it’s difficult to define but easy to know it when you see it.
When she was a student, this woman joined a student-led group of Christian women who would meet regularly for prayer circles. Sounding benign enough, it soon proved to be anything but. The young women would gather around, close their eyes, and offer up “prayers” for others at their school. The “prayers” tended to go something like this: Heavenly Father, we ask for your grace and blessing on Leigh Anne. Leigh Anne spent the night with David, Lord, after the formal last weekend. Lord, we just ask that you help Leigh Anne ask for your forgiveness for her sin…………Oh Lord, Todd is drinking whisky after breakfast in the commons. He thinks that we do not see, but we know oh God your mighty eye sees all. Please help Todd………
Gossip as false prayer has to be one of the most agregious abuses of group talk there is. Even if not a formal prayer, too often in our ultra-connected world we have the opportunity to make public things that are private under the auspices of concern and just letting everyone know what’s going on.
The thing is, everyone does not need to know what’s going on. Everyone wants to know what is going on, which is not the same.
Sometimes prayer and concern just isn’t. It really is still OK not to share everything all the time, despite the fact we have been given an actual “share” button in social media. As much as I enjoy electronic networking, private conversation is a wonderful thing.
Sometimes it’s the only real way to show someone that you care.