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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Gossip/Rumors (either or both) (10/28/10)

TITLE: A Toxic Condition
By Barbara Less


A Toxic Condition

It felt as though a vice was gripping her heart, “I don’t understand,” thought Janet, “Did I do something wrong? I know that I shouldn’t take things personal, but it just seemed like almost everyone treated me like I had some sort of detestable disease or committed some sort of heinous crime.” The furrowed brow and turned down corners of Janet’s mouth must have signaled a call for help.

“What’s wrong?” asked Michelle.

“Oh Michelle, I don’t know what’s going on at my other job,” Janet started. “Almost everyone at work was treating me like I had the plague or something. I’m sure it wasn’t my imagination.”

“Where is your other job at?” inquired Michelle.

“Oh, it’s at a manufacturing company,” responded Janet.

Michelle pursed her lips and nodded, “Say no more, Jan. I know exactly what you’re talking about.”

“You do?” Janet inquired, her eyes widened and her facial muscles became more relaxed.

“Oh yes. I used to work in the office of a print shop, but every now and then I would have to go out to the printing and shipping area, which was very similar to a factory,” Michelle explained. “My husband worked in the office too, and if I talked to someone out in the factory for five minutes ‘I was having an affair.’“

“Yes, I totally understand!” exclaimed Janet, relieved that someone seemed to understand.

“My husband and I actually ended up getting a divorce as a result.”

“No,” said Janet shaking her head sadly.

“Yes, I’m afraid so, Jan,” Michelle explained, “I used to tell my husband, ‘You should know better than to believe those rumors and idle gossip. Look at whose saying these things. Are you going to take their word over mine?’“

“That is really sad,” Janet responded.

“It is,” Michelle said, “Of course there were other factors and it demonstrated how insecure people can be, but all the gossip caused a lot of heart-ache and damage.”

“Yes,” said Janet “Some people feel the need to elevate themselves so they spread rumors about other people.”

“Yes, or they’re jealous. Whatever the reason, it really creates an uncomfortable atmosphere,” Michelle said.

“Yes, it is really toxic. In fact,” Janet surmised, “I think that people who habitually spread rumors or gossip have a toxic condition.”

“Not only that, but it causes so much pain to innocent people, as well,” Michelle commented.

“You know, Michelle, I have never experienced anything like this, or at least not to this degree. How do I handle it? What do I do?” Janet pleaded.

“Jan, you just do your job and keep on being a person of integrity,” Michelle advised. “Sooner or later the truth will come out. People who gossip think they’re hurting someone else, but in the long run they are hurting themselves,”

“Yes, you’re right,” Janet nodded, “Although I’m sorry you had that experience, I’m so thankful that you understand and I really appreciate your advice.”

“I’m glad I could help. I hate to see someone like you have such a horrible experience,” Michelle consoled.

“I hate to see anyone experience it. Jesus compared it to murder and I can see why,” Janet mused.

The scenario mentioned above was based on actual events. Our society seems to thrive on gossip and it is even used as a form of bullying. The source of gossip is often difficult, if not impossible to pinpoint, which makes confrontation equally difficult or impossible.

Gossip often hides behind a mask of cowardice, because it attacks its victims behind closed doors—out of view—like shooting someone in the back. Perhaps people who gossip should try wearing a different mask, like one used in medieval times. People who were caught gossiping were forced to wear a mask in public depicting a long tongue and big ears. If that were enforced today, people might think twice about spreading gossip.

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This article has been read 288 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amanda Brogan11/04/10
I love your opening sentence! It's the perfect attention-grabber. Good job with showing the story through dialog as well. I felt so bad for poor Michelle. :( She had wonderful advice for Jan and was a great model for what a true friend should be like.

I also liked the thought of making people who gossip wear goofy masks. Gave me a chuckle. Then we'd know who to stear clear of. ;)

Great writing!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/06/10
You did a nice job telling an interesting story while showing an important message
Verna Mull 11/06/10
How true an anology of the harmfulness of gossip. Lord help us all to control our tongues!
Jan Ackerson 11/07/10
I really like it when devotionals or 'teaching' entries start with a story, as this did. It makes the lesson so much more palatable.

Work on making your dialogue sound more realistic, less stilted.

Thanks for sharing from your own experience--a good read.
Melissa Lindsey11/10/10
I loved your last paragraph! So true!