Most of us have never made a ‘Things to do’ list that has ‘start a rumour ‘on it, but we sometimes find ourselves involved in one way or the other in the business and may eventually suffer from its distasteful aftertaste.
While we were growing up, my family suddenly moved to a downside suburb,(forced eviction) and shortly after our relocation, we were visited by the men of the night. Luckily their activities were confined to the living room because of the.security of the connecting door to the bedrooms. When they eventually left, we discovered that both our coloured television box and video cassette player had been stolen(if you never used these, you need to call me auntie ). I can still remember the sense of loss and powerlessness I experienced as a child when we finally opened the connecting door and noticed the missing items. Sadly the stolen items never got replaced and the effect of the theft remained throughout my adolescent life. I think being falsely accused and having rumours spread about you is like being robbed of our reputation which is not always replaceable and usually out of our control, Having rumours spread about you can easily lead one to feeling judged and isolated. This can sometimes lead to withdrawal from community, depression and even suicide.
Some years ago, I suffered a major onslaught on my reputation as a result of false accusations. The wife of a very good friend (let’s call her Gladys}whom I had helped was encountering trouble in her marriage and decided I was a better reason for her matrimonial crisis with stories to the effect. They were hot and juicy. These stories spread rapidly with convincing gusto and it was not long before I started encountering animosity in my community. My marital status did not also help to cast doubts on the one side of the story that was being relayed and the demeanor of people towards me in my community changed. I could literally feel the vibes from people’s misjudgment. I must mention though that I had approached Gladys privately shortly before the whole saga as I had noticed some subtle malicious behavior to get to the root of the matter, only to be met with insults.
I battled with the pain of being lied against and felt robbed. There was also this paralyzing thought not to do the things I usually did as a constant voice of criticism told me that everybody now saw me as a hypocrite. Luckily I am not one for people’s opinion polls. The whole episode seemed so unfair and there were times I just wished the whole truth would be revealed immediately. But this desire was painfully unfulfilled and I became intimately familiar with the salty taste of water running down my cheeks.
On several occasions, I cried to sleep or woke up and started crying again. For me, it was a painful call to live out all the knowledge I have acquired and sometimes taught, allowing the largeness of character overlook the meanness of others,
For me, it was a painful call to live out all the knowledge I have acquired and sometimes taught, allowing the largeness of character to overlook the meanness of others, to go beyond forgiving and leave the doors unlocked so that any prodigal could return. And I must confess that sometimes, a part of me wanted the door to be shut. Being nice is not a guarantee against rumors and I was sometimes tempted to lash out and defend myself but never really bothered as I felt this would only generate more stories for people to twist. It was a case of choosing not to be bitter and trusting God to vindicate me. There were several valuable lessons I learned during the period.
When it comes to rumours, I learned that it is easy to spread tales about people we do not really know or care about. Secondly, people can be fickle and easily move from like to hate based on what they hear or choose to believe. It would be foolish to feel responsible for their choice. As tempting as it may be, there might be no need trying to explain anything to everybody as this would only breed more stories to be distorted. I realized that although rumours can damage my reputation, they cannot damage my character-. which is what really counts. But I think the greatest lesson came one day as I spoke with a friend, she said,
“ if not that this was happening to you, I would not have believed the person was innocent .You know that many times people say there is no smoke without a fire and I always believed that but imagine all these things happening to you, it is all smoke and no real fire. The fire here has been caused by people’s tongues”.
It struck me a lot because I realized sometimes fire can be caused by a lying tongue and perpetuated by lying tongues. I thought about the many forwarded messages on social media that seemed to ginger strife and the shortcomings of others while relaying one-sided information. Could some of those messages be actually smoke without fire as my case had been?
As we end these series on letting go of false expectations/false accusations and move to the next 6 months of the year, can I encourage us all to be careful before we click the forward button, or copy and share a link or most likely pick up the phone to tell another person. There are always two sides to a story and adding your voice to one side (passing comments and judging motives )might just be propagating an untruth which could be causing distress for someone else. I agree that there might be some truths in that little story but not every truth needs to be necessarily reiterated.
I am glad to say now it is apparent to all that all the stories circulating were malicious lies and God himself has vindicated me Most rumours are started by people who are either jealous or envious with some root of bitterness or anger and propagated by people who have similar affinity, We can stop gossip and rumour mongering by truly caring about people while minding our own business, something we are not always very good at, truth be told.