Last year, I moved into an assisted living place. It's been hard adjusting, but the thing I hate most is all the gossip that goes on here. I guess that's to be expected in a small community like this (we have about 100 units) but it still gets under my skin. What can I do about it? — Mrs. M.C.
The first thing you can do about it is to refuse to be part of it! Don't listen to gossip and avoid gossiping yourself.
I realize you may be doing this already—but when everyone around us acts in a certain way, it's easy for us to slip into their habits without even realizing what we're doing. But gossiping is not an innocent pastime; it distorts the truth and damages reputations (often without the person even knowing it). The Bible says, "A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends" (Proverbs 16:28).
At the same time, don't go to the opposite extreme by acting arrogant or cold toward those who don't behave the way you wish they would. Have you ever asked yourself why some people gossip? Often it's because they are lonely and crave friends, and they hope to gain them by appearing to be "in the know."
But what if you overlooked their faults and instead reached out to them as a friend? Then eventually you'd earn the right to say something to them about their gossiping. But do so gently and kindly; the Bible says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1). Most of all, pray for them and point them to Christ. He alone helps us to do what is right, and gives us hope for the future.