The Report of My Death Was an Exaggeration!

I thought it was a strange way to greet someone. "Did your mother die?" a church acquaintance asked, "No, I replied. "She recently celebrated her 92nd birthday!"

The acquaintance continued, "I thought I heard you died, so I was surprised to see you last week. That's why I thought it must have been your mother. Unfortunately, I told Stephanie that you had passed away, and she was upset."

I'm not dead yet

"WHAT?" I exclaimed. That explained why Stephanie hadn't called me to help her with the church's clothes closet. She thought I had moved to heaven. That's one way to get out of a job. But, boy, is Stephanie going to be surprised to see me!

"Well, I am glad that you and your mother are still alive!" my confused acquaintance said. "Um, thank you," I said.

It wasn't me!

I felt irritated and somewhat offended by this exchange. But, the more I thought about it: I realized she had confused me with another lady named Connie, who died last year in our church.

Still, I thought her comments were insensitive. I am not sure if this lady knows about my blood cancer or prognosis. No one wants people talking behind their backs, especially when it's not true!

Getting the facts wrong

If it had been me, I wouldn't have admitted to any of this.  Instead, I would have called Stephanie and said, "You remember what I told you about Connie? Well, I got it wrong."

Sometimes people get facts wrong.  For example, my friend told people that I had bone cancer and that I was going to the Mayo Clinic for a second opinion when I was first diagnosed in 2017.   

Unfortunately, she had it wrong on two counts. First, I went to MD Anderson, and my diagnosis was myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), a blood cancer caused by bone marrow failure. She didn't understand."Say it's a rare form of blood cancer," I told her. "They can always look it up later."

Is it accurate, helpful, or kind?

Have you ever played the game of gossip at a party? The first player whispers something into the second player's ear, and so on. It usually is an entirely different story by the time it gets to the last player. That's what happens in life, too.

Gossip is a casual conversation about other people, typically involving not always accurate details.  I have heard people say gossip is the devil's radio. I can see why. Many misunderstandings happen because of gossip.

Ask yourself: Is it accurate, helpful, or kind? Please get your facts straight before you repeat them. Get confirmation if you are unsure about something. For goodness sakes, get the names right!

Gossip is damaging

A few years ago, I participated in a Ladies' Bible Study called Keep it Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All by Karen Ehman. In addition, we watched a video series hosted by the author. Our class members nodded in agreement as Karen told stories about how damaging gossip is.

Karen Ehman's Tips:

  • Don't talk too much.
  • Wait to talk.
  • Don't speak without listening.
  • Sometimes, we should not speak at all.

What Mark Twain said

"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."

Mark Twain also said, "If we were meant to talk more than listen, we would have two mouths and one ear."

He wrote to a reporter in 1897, "The report of my death was an exaggeration." Gee, I have something in common with Mark Twain!

Have you had a similar experience with people who mean well, but talk too much?

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