What do you do with rumors and stories? Funny ones can be let go, but if the words are personal the answer is more problematic. How does one ignore an accusation that is false? Can one just stand by doing nothing? Should there be any limits to one’s response? What if it is your best friend who is the accused? Does this make a difference?
The first question is one of trust. How will others respond when they realize that the words are not the truth? Can we actually believe that “perjury won’t go unpunished? Would you let a liar go free?” (Proverbs 19.5)
The second unknown is awareness. Are the parties who know the story aware that the details may, or are, not true? If they are aware what do I believe they are going to do about it (loops back to the first question)? On the other hand, if they are not aware who has the burden to tell the story accurately?
Knowing when to defend your “self” is difficult. I have yet to find any black and white formula provides a clear path to resolution. Any answer needs to include the following:
1. Compassion towards the person perpetuating the story. Regardless of what we might think of them, they are echoes of our own behavior. We could easily be doing the same thing, just change the names and details.
2. Willingness to look towards the larger picture. Will my response help me achieve my priorities and values? Am I willing to stay focused on my goals even if there are arrows sticking in my back?
3. Trust in the roles that others can and will play. One can defend without striking back. One can walk with dignity knowing the justice will come eventually.
Rumors and stories are a part of every life. Often they bring humor and laughter. I smiles and laughed as I talked with my brother last night. God gave me a great gift through our conversation. My prayer is that my words may do the same for someone else.