Gossip,  Honesty,  Humility,  Pride

I Like it When You Say That. Now Please Stop.

I’m weak, okay? There–I said it. I’d like to think I can handle whatever gets thrown my way, but no. So in an effort to change and grow, I’ve made a list. These random observations have been bothering me lately so I thought I’d bother you with them.

In no particular order, I offer you three things I like to hear:

Numero Uno: Your Kids Are So Tall!

I know—I’ve done it too. Well-intentioned words that sound like compliments, as if the child got that high on the measuring stick based on talent.

Besides the fact they already know it, there’s nothing inherently wrong with telling kids they’re tall. The problem comes when our tall children hear these accolades over and over and take it as praise that they did something noble or impressive.

The other problem comes when I hear people tell my kids they’re tall and I sense pride welling. Why in tarnation would I be proud of them for growing? They don’t shoot up or peter out on purpose.

Unless your third-grade princess is a chain smoker, she has no control over her height. And unless you schedule a leg-lengthening surgery for your man-child, he has no control over his height either.

Olympic Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton stands at five-three. For most men, that’s not a goal. Scott obviously received plenty of praise for his triple jumps and backflips, but I’m fairly confident no one ever complimented his height.

I grew up with a friend who tapped out at four-foot-eleven and three-quarter inches. As if she had any control over such results, it would sound ludicrous to insult her for being short.

On the flip side, why would I compliment someone whose height numbers are over six feet? Unless you’re a model or play center in the WNBA, most über tall women aren’t fond of being über tall.

Sure, it can be helpful to get chocolate out of high cupboards, but until eighth grade I despised being tall. All the boys seemed stuck in pre-puberty while I shot up and stood out.

Photo by Guido Jansen on Unsplash

Once I topped off at 5’9” I liked my height, but I do not consider it an accomplishment. I ate pounds of food, drank gallons of water, and grew in my sleep. Gold star for me?

That’s not a talent, people. It’s called growing.

The next time I accidentally compliment a tall child for being tall, you can bet I’ll be mentally kicking my brain for reverting to the norm. I desire to focus on attributes kids are actually working on… like kindness, intentionality, and respect. Join me?

B: Carrie’s a Writer 

If those three words were the only way you knew me, you wouldn’t know me very well.

You can form an opinion about me based on what you’ve heard or seen other writers say or do, but at the end of your list you might be wrong and I might still be a writer.

  • I don’t write at 4 a.m.
  • I don’t drink gallons of coffee.
  • I don’t own thousands of books.
  • My dream date would not take place in a library.
  • I don’t write in moleskin notebooks with quill pens.
  • You will never find a cat lounging on my laptop because I’m not fond of them. At all.

But I’m still a writer.

Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

I also don’t enjoy reading all the classics just because smarties voted them classic, I don’t have a quaint writing shed inspired by Chip and Joanna, and if I had to choose between a clean house or a chef, I’d choose to keep writing.

Sheesh–such a Negative Nancy nonfiction list.

On the positive, optimistic side…

    • I’m much more creative in the morning than at night.
    • My diffuser releases rad scents and health benefits. Using this as we speak:

    • I have a passionate relationship with my thesaurus.
    • Burning my favorite candles makes me feel cozy. Got this beauty for my bday:

  • I spend five hours a week working at a coffee shop drinking Medicine Bombs.
  • …and I have a major crush on Uni•Ball AIR Pens. Pure, flowy, inky bliss.

So I divulge a few quirks, share a few faves, and you know a bit more about my writing habits.

But that’s not who I am.

I like being known as a writer, but my closest friends don’t refer to me that way. We’re friends because of things like 2 a.m. heart-to-hearts, blunt honesty, body image issues, unabashed encouragement, insightful questions, resolved misunderstandings, Marianne’s 10/20, Jesus talks, revealed insecurities, calls for no reason, similar battles and life stages.

They get me—and it has nothing to do with how many words per minute I can type.

How well do you know your friends and family? Do you separate who they are from what they do?

#Three: Did You Hear About Mildrid?

If you want me to change the subject at the most awkward time, start dishing.

Speaking up isn’t as easy as it sounds, and unfortunately takes a whole heap of courage to open my mouth. Why? Because even though I say I hate gossip, I’m also relatively keen on listening to it.

Holy Holly—that’s hard to type.

Whether they admit it or not, I reckon most people enjoy a juicy listen, too. Not sure what it is about our bizarro human nature, but psychologists agree: spreading gossip makes us feel superior.

If that pill’s hard to choke down, see if you can agree with this one: we love being in the know. Whether or not we mean to monopolize the conversation, when we have information to reveal we naturally spark curiosity in our listeners.

When I wrote Loose Lipps Sink Ships, I honed in on these three questions I try to ask myself before blabbing:

  • Is it true?
  • Is it kind?
  • Is it necessary?

If not, let it go unsaid.

I can choose to filter my side, but when a friend offers intriguing gossip, I find myself sucked in faster than a dead fly in a vacuum hose. So if you’re going to start a sentence with, “Did you hear about Myrtle?”, be ready for my response: “Did you know you can ride a turtle?”

“I think you mean a tortoise, but you shouldn’t.”

“Good point. Might be scratchy.”

“No—you’re too heavy.”

And on we’d go, veering away from sweet Myrtle and ending up in the desert, munching spinach and arugula together.

“A real Christian is the one who can give his pet parrot to the town gossip.” ~Billy Graham

Recappin’ Like a Pastor… 

  1. I like it when you gossip. But please, for the love of my weakness and our mutual friends, halt. Let’s be the ones who teach this next generation of talkers how to discuss things that actually matter.
  2. I also like it when you call me a writer, but let’s move on and get down to the nitty-gritty. Like avocados and plank jacks, for example.
  3. I also also like it when you tell my kids they’re tall, but I don’t need their heads to get big. Nobody likes tall, big-headed children who become tall, big-headed adults. I’m scratching tall comments from my list of compliments; let me know if you’re striving for the same!

What healthy changes are you making these days? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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  • Sandra

    Understand no.1 I’m short but have a tall husband and too tall sons and a tall daughter
    no.2 I do like coffee and like to blog but not at 4am or even 8 am – I’m not a morning person
    no.3 Agree but we need to pray each day to help us stand up against it don’t we.
    Enjoyed the post.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Some of the best people in the world are short, Sandra. The best synonym I ever heard was “vertically-challenged.” 🙂 Yes–I very much agree we need to pray each day to stand up against tempations like gossip. Thanks for your input!

  • Sherry Brinkerhoff

    Tall–I am (or used to be!). I was 5′ 10″ tall when I graduated high school. Now I am just under 5′ 7″. You don’t think it could have anything to do with how long ago I graduated, do you? When I see someone I haven’t seen in a while (especially my grandchildren), I remark how tall they have got. It has nothing to do with anything, however, except that my brain remembers the size they were the last time I saw them, and I expect they will be the same size (not really, but you know what I mean). It really has nothing to do with talent, ego, or accolades.

    The Classics–I was an English major in college and taught English in high school and junior high school for a few years. There were a lot of the classics I didn’t like and others I never heard of (kind of embarrassing in conversations with that colleague who oozed “classics”).

    Prayer gossip is the worst. I’d rather pray in my closet than go to a prayer meeting! That being said, prayer meetings focused on ACTS keep me on the straight and narrow.

    Carrie, I noticed at the top of your page that you are listed as an avocado eater. As I write this, I am enjoying a half avocado with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and sprinkled with pomegranate ariels. Yum!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Yes, Sherry, I definitely think you’re not as tall because of your graduation year. 🙂 Hee hee. I hear what you’re saying about the tall comments. I’ve done the same, but more often than not I catch myself dishing out those words like compliments. Thanks for making me feel better about the classics. I have no idea what pomegranate ariels are, but I love your avocado snack! I had half of one this morning and the other half will be on my dinner salad. Cheers to the good stuff!

      • Sherry Brinkerhoff

        Pomegranate ariels are the ruby red fruit part of the inside of the pomegranate that is edible. Our tree was very generous last year (we pick in November, usually). I “plucked” most of the fruit in November and December and froze them in gallon size zip-lock bags to make juice for drinking and for jelly, but I saved some in the coldest part of our refrigerator to use fresh on salads and such “out of season”–very pretty and very healthy!

        • Carrie Talbott

          Ohhh! Thanks for the explanation, Sherry. I’ve always called them seeds. 🙂 We had pomegranate trees on our property in Baja. After years of messes, someone finally told me to pop them open under water. Brilliant! They’re a lot of work, but it sounds like you’re on a roll.

  • Krista

    Thanks Carrie! Good things to think about as always! This line “Not sure what it is about our bizarro human nature, but psychologists agree: spreading gossip makes us feel superior.”, made me think about this book I read recently called The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller. Its a great little read on 1 Corinthians 3:21-4:7, and it takes like 30 minutes…to read the whole thing!

  • Ann Jenks

    Ok, kinda resonating here!
    1. My equivalent of “S/he’s so tall” is “This is Ann…she’s the pastor’s wife.” I tend to respond with “Sometimes my glow gives me away…” or “Really, I’m just me…” Maybe it’s like saying “You must be spiritually tall” 🙂

    2. I totally get the favorite pen!! It’s an important thing to me. Mine is the Tul Needle Point.

    3. Christian gossip, oops… I mean prayer requests. “Hey, our sister needs prayer for ____ because_____. I knew you would want to be praying…” Note to self: not my story to tell, not my story to tell…

    Thanks so much again, Carrie, for helping me stay on my Jesus toes!!

    • Chris

      Ann, that hits way too close to home for me.

      1. I am a pastor’s wife, too. Living in a fishbowl is not fun. And I LOVE your responses…

      2. I had an older woman that called several times a week with “prayer requests.” When I stopped her and asked her to go ahead and pray with me on the phone she quit calling. 🙂

      I love getting Carrie’s emails. They always brighten my day!! Thanks, Carrie!!

      • Carrie Talbott

        Oh, Chris… that is classic! I love your creative way to stop the gossip. Good on ya.
        My pleasure–thanks for reading!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Dear Pastor’s Wife,
      I love your responses. You hit the nail on the head all three times. Thanks for chiming in!
      Dave’s Daughter (the one who doesn’t play piano)

  • Jane

    Good article! I was always told I was tall, too. Ho hum, I’d think! Wanted to be told I was loved and smart! oh well! Kids these days get heaped on with wonderful, loving , words! Cheers!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Gracias, Jane! Not sure it makes any difference coming from me, but guess what? You are loved and smart. Salud!