The house had just emptied of the last of its guest. Ilana was in the kitchen loading the dish washer with coffee cups and cake plates. She loved that God used her home for the Thursday night women’s Bible study. She began to pray for all those that had been mentioned during the hour and a half gathering. Lorries cousin, Abby who was living in sin with her boyfriend. Gladys daughter, Cali who was using drugs. The Jensens, Kathy’s neighbors who kept harassing them about their dogs. Taliya’s husband, Andrew who she suspected was having an affair…
“Mom, what is gossip?” Twelve year old Layanah asked Ilana. She had come into the kitchen knowing her mom’s guest had left and began helping her pick up. She set a cup and plate on the counter.
Ilana was shaken from her prayers and had not quite heard the question.
“Oh, thank you Laya! I didn’t hear you come in. What was that you were saying?” Ilana reached for the cup and plate she had just set beside her.
“You’re welcome. I asked you what gossip is.” Laya said, as she sat down at the breakfast bar facing her mom’s back. The kitchen sink was across the way, a source of complaint for her mom. She was always saying she wished she could face her guest from the sink.
Ilana added soap to the dishwasher and hit start. She grabbed a towel and turned to face Laya. Her oldest daughter had that ‘I’m serious’ look to her face. Oh dear, she really wants to know what gossip is. Huh, interesting. This could take a while.
“I was just going to put water on for tea, would you like some?” Ilana asked as she grabbed the tea pot and began to fill it with water.
“Can I have hot cocoa instead?” Laya asked.
“Sure thing. You grab the marshmallows and I’ll dig out the last coffee cups.” Said Ilana. I think I have two clean ones left. Sigh. Now Lord how do I cover this topic. It’s tricky, I’ll be needing Your help.
Ilana walked around to join Laya at the bar.
“So, what brings this up, hon?” She asked.
Laya tried to gather her thoughts. This was as close to a “confrontation” as she had ever approached with her mom. She was nervous.
“Well… um… we did a big study last Sunday in class about the different ways we can gossip. Um… and I was just wondering what your definition of gossip is.” Laya worked real hard to look her mom right in the face. She was so tempted to fiddle with her fingers and look down. Why did she feel like she was doing something wrong?
“Oh… yes… I seem to remember you talking about that. Wow, well its a tricky subject. I suppose I would say is like repeating rumors.” Ilana said.
“And…what is a rumor… to you?” Laya pressed forward. Fingers fiddling in her lap.
The tea pot began to whistle.
Ilana spun to go get it. Saved by the bell! My, my I’m being put on the spot by my own daughter Lord. Guess I figured I had a couple more years. She’s only twelve. Ilana poured the water in the cups and they began to fix their drinks. She watched Laya from her peripheral vision. She really has matured lately. Why does it seem like they leave childhood sooner and sooner these days? She seems nervous. Guess I would be too. I never talked like this with my mom. Then again she was the queen of gossip. Thank You Lord that Laya is able to talk to me like this. Realizing she had gotten distracted she reviewed the last question. Rumor, oh yes. What doI think rumors are?
“It’s okay if you’re too tired to talk about this tonight mommy.” Laya was giving her mom an out. She was suddenly not sure she should question her mom this way. Besides she looks tired.
Ilana reached over and squeezed Laya’s hand.
“No, no. Really is okay hon, I’m just got distracted for a minute. My you’ve grown up lately and it just hit me.” Ilana smiled. “Rumors. Well I suppose they are things people say about other people that we don’t know for sure are true. When we hear things second hand and repeat it like it’s something we know as fact or true but really we don’t for sure.” Yeah, that should do.
“So… you think gossip could be slander too? I mean if we don’t know for sure it’s true then it could be slander? Like gossip is the actual repeating from my mouth to someone else but then if it’s really not true it then can be slander?” Laya played with the marshmallows in her cup. Guess I’m not going to keep my promise to keep looking at mom while I talk. Geez this is hard.
The series of questions stumped Ilana. The boldness her baby girl was displaying and grown up thinking was volleying for her thoughts. Achem, focus Lana! Gossip, slander. Oh yeah! Maybe something happened at school?
“Well yes, I do think slander and gossip can go hand in hand dear. It depends on the situation. Has something happened at school? What had made you think so deeply about this? You seem upset. Anything I can do to help?” Again Ilana reached for Laya’s hand.
Laya froze. Now she would have to say why she was asking straight up. She loved her mom and knew her mom loved her. The test of love is risk. That’s what Mrs. Taylor said Sunday. When you see inconsistencies in those you love, it test your true love to point them out. Mrs. Taylor’s words rang in her head. Okay, here I go.
“Momma, I was bored while your study was going. So I sat at the top of the stairs and listened. I’m not sure that was right or wrong. I’m sorry if it was wrong. But when you all started to talk about prayer request I began to feel uncomfortable. Cause it seemed to me that much of the stuff people shared sounded like gossip. And if only from what some may think is going on with someone else but they don’t know for sure it could be slander. I have also felt funny at school the last few days too. It seems like all anybody really does is gossip. I’m not trying to judge people really. I’m just trying to work on not gossiping myself. Or at least that’s why I’m thinking so deep about it. Jesus said we have to do what the Bible says not just learn it with our heads.
So anyways… on Sunday when we were done talking about all the different kinds of gossip we got to talking about how to work on it with our own selves and how to help others we love too. Momma sometimes I think adults gossip alot and slander too but they call it prayer request time.” Laya took a deep breath and slowly raised her eyes to look at her mom. She felt really hot. Maybe too much cocoa. Jesus if my heart is wrong please show me! Her mom seemed shocked. Not mad though. Whew!
Ilana was stunned. Who is this girl sitting across from me tonight, Lord? She thought back to the prayer request time from the study. Reviewing the words exchanged again, but from a different perspective now. Her daughter was shining a light and it was hard to ignore. Oh my dear Lord Jesus! It was more gossip than anything! And yes, yes it could very well be as much slander as gossip too. Several of the ladies even admitted they didn’t know for sure about some of the stuff they said! And I was praying for them too!
The silence hung in the air thick. And became more uncomfortable by the second for both. Layanah felt like shrinking into the stool she sat in and shifted around. She tried to read her mom’s face but it was set in her own thoughts without much to go on. She was about to apologize and say forget it, a mistake, and swear she’d never eaves drop on her mom’s Bible study again. Then her mom cleared her throat.
“Laya, do you still have the papers from your Sunday class?” Ilana asked looking at her with what seemed like genuine interest.
“Yes.” Was all Laya could muster to her lips.
“Would you go get them right now. I’d like to look at them.” Her mom asked. Immediately Laya felt defensive.
“It’s not bad stuff momma. Really.” Laya looked as if she might burst into tears.
Ilana pulled Laya into a hug.
“Oh dear Laya, you’re not in trouble! You didn’t do anything wrong. I want you to go get it because it seems your momma is needing the lesson as badly as anyone else now. You are right about what you said dear one.” Ilana pulled Laya’s face up to look directly into her eyes. “You did very well in talking to me Laya. Don’t you dare think I’m angry with you okay?” Ilana again pulled her close and hugged her tight.
Laya’s relief was like a rush of warm air on a cold night. She wrapped her arms around her mom. Thank You God! Thank You! Oh I was so unsure of myself – so scared. But Mrs. Taylor was right!
“Now then,” Ilana said, “run and go get those papers okay? And together we’ll go over them and together we’ll encourage and help each other do what the Bible says not just learn it, eh?” Ilana smiled. Oh Lord God, this is new territory. I’m learning from this young lady You have given to me tonight! Thank You for making her brave to speak up to me. Thank You for showing me my own weakness with such love through her. Please never let me ever be too old or too much her elder to not really listen and learn from her too. Help us both honor You dear Lord!
Layanah jumped down and went to go get the papers from her class on Sunday. A smile that went from her heart to each cheek on her face wrote the moment in ink on her soul.
Ilana grabbed their cups and moved to the living room where they would be more comfortable. It seemed the Bible study was not over tonight. Perhaps this one was the only one that would really happen tonight. She too smiled from heart to face… looking forward to the days ahead where it seemed now her baby girl was becoming a young woman and they would grow more and more into friends in the Lord too!
Grace and peace in Yeshua the Messiah