People will frustrate us. Some might even hurt us. Miscues and miscommunications happen on a regular basis with our family and friends. It occurs intentionally or unintentionally. When we experience disappointments in relationships, we need a space to speak our mind.
Speaking our mind about our relationships has to do with not only what we say, but how and why we say it. The difference becomes a matter of gossiping or processing. The space where we talk about our disappointments and frustrations of others can either leave us in resentment or moves us to maturity.
Jesus in Luke 6:45 says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
The writers of Scripture do not run from the pain we experience from others. Rather their insight concerns what happens in our hearts. They focus on not taking revenge, letting unforgiveness fester, and pursuing peace. Jesus calls us to look into our hearts to recognize the unhealthy patterns of how we see others when they disappoint us.
Talking about the conflicts in our relationship deals with our hearts. We can fall into the trap of gossiping of others in unhealthy ways or learn to process the situation healthily.
What’s the difference between gossiping and processing? Here are four indicators of having the right motivation for speaking our mind in the midst of relationship conflict:
They vs. I
Gossiping makes the problem about the “other person.” It speaks in the third person and assigns motives to actions without knowing all the facts. On the other hand, processing uses “I” statements. These statements give the other person the benefit of the doubt, but more importantly, help separate feeling from reality. It’s not that our feelings do not matter, but often they do not give us the whole picture.
Shifting from “They” to “I” begins to help us see our part in the problem rather than blaming the other person.
Quantity vs. Quality
Simply put, gossip looks to broadcast the problem to as many people as possible, quantity. Processing pursues quality relationships and conversations. Quality relationships includes people who will listen well, but will give us the truth about the other person and our role in the problem.
Campaigning vs. Feedback
Closely aligned to the last indicator, gossiping campaigns. We share our relational problems with several people for them to side with us rather than the other person. Gossiping builds a case with an audience.
Processing looks for feedback. After speaking our mind, we start asking the question, “Am I seeing this person and situation rightly?” Processing wants to pursue growth and maturity. Gossiping remains in the same place.
Winning vs. Reconciliation
Gossiping makes the goal of winning. How do win the relational disappointment? We take revenge on the other person by airing our grievances with multiple people. Sometimes we hold a grudge against them. Inside our hearts, we have held on to bitterness.
Processing pursues reconciliation. When we want to discuss our relational problems with a close friend, they help us see the road to forgiveness and Christ at work in us. They tell us where we have gone wrong and help us give grace to the person who hurts us.
This week, you might experience disappointments in relationships. How you handle it reveals Christ’s work in your heart. Start by asking God for forgiveness for the times you responded in the wrong ways and for the grace to respond healthily in the future. Then identify the people in your life who will listen to you process and will help you see the reality of yourself and the other person through Christ.
What other differences do you see between gossiping and processing? Share in the comment section below.
Photo credit by Arnel Hasanovic.