Last week, I interviewed a lady for a magazine that I write. The lady, along with another teacher from her school, had been nominated for an award by her school principal and her colleague.
I was writing a story that drew further attention to the nomination. Not that she wanted any.
Despite being integral to the machinations of the school community, she was satisfied with her work quite enough without further attention coming her way. About as self-deprecating as they come, Debbie (we’ll call her that – it was her name) was more than willing to deflect any praise to other people and was certainly more comfortable talking up her school community.
At one point of the interview, when we were nearly done, she had to leave the room for some quick troubleshooting.
As I waited, I poked my head out the door of Debbie’s office and called out across the room to the colleague who nominated her, ‘did she miss anything out?’
Without hesitation, her colleague bounded into the office.
“Oh yes,” she said, “there is so much more to tell you than she will ever tell you and I have made a list.”
There she stood, with a Post-it note in hand, and without taking another breath, she continued.
“She is a very fair lady. She is a great leader and a mentor. She’s a wonderful teacher of new staff and is very sensitive to the needs of the staff and the community. I think she’s quite wonderful, but she mightn’t want to tell you any of that,” gushed the colleague.
I was amazed and moved. Amazed that she had an unsolicited list at hand, and moved at her beautiful affirmations for the co-worker.
We all carry lists around. About ourselves. About others. We’re often quick to produce them – solicited or not. Some are a litany of nuanced criticisms that doesn’t seem overly harsh because they’re cleverly curated, but they’re lists that we’ve cultivated all the same. The ones we use on ourselves are sometimes a cause of even greater destruction because we don’t bother nearly so much with their curation. After all, they’re unspoken.
Those lists affirm our worst. Or the worst in others. They speak ill. They condemn us to be forever bound by behaviours from which we can be made free.
They assign us and others with problems insurmountable – stuff that we’ve decided cannot and will not change.
Years ago, I remember someone saying that if you’re going to gossip, ‘gossip good.’ Talk up those around you to those around you. In places where others can’t hear you, speak well of them. Develop lists like the woman in my story that can be produced in a flash. Lists that validate the good in others. Lists that speak a better word.
Better still, hear the long list that Jesus speaks over you and let that resonate in your self-deprecating soul. Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, loved, chosen, cherished, graced, gifted, righteous. Know that list, meditate on that lists, and let it breath new life into dead bones.
In referencing 2 Corinthians 10:5, an article I recently read said:
There is a reason why the Father wants us to take every thought captive. Because every action is rooted in the thought that produced it.
The work that we do in partnership with the Holy Spirit in sanctifying our minds cleanses us to produce a truer list. A list that not only declares how our Creator and Saviour sees us but of how he sees others as well.
Gossip good gear.