I’m starting to think the phrase “That is SO high school” is kind of a misnomer. We have somehow gotten this crazy idea that catty, dramatic, over-obsessing about minuscule, superficial matters is somehow a uniquely high school behavior.
Yet the older I get, the more I realize it’s not. Such behavior only begins in high school. For many people, the phase never really ends.
No matter the age, you can always find people who thrive on drama. It’s almost as if some women don’t know how to function without it. Maybe a woman’s best friend is hanging out with a guy she don’t like, or maybe she dislikes another woman because she looked at her the wrong way in the hallway or she didn’t say “hello” or her tone of voice always “seems fake.”
This even goes on in churches….correction: it especially goes on in churches! Several girls may have a crush on the same guitar player, so they pick apart the woman he chooses to date. Small group Bible studies morph into exclusive cliques. A woman’s devotion to Christ is questioned by those around her because of the size of her house, or because her parenting style doesn’t fit the typical Christian mold.
The list goes on and on. If you are a woman, chances are there is chattering of this sort happening in your immediate vicinity. We women feed on it.
Even though we’ve probably all contributed to this nonsense at some time or another, many of us feel more like prisoners of war than willing combatants. The substance of these arguments is often so ludicrous and inconsequential that you just want to bang your head against a wall!
But in response to many of the young ladies who come to my office and complain about the drama going on around them, feeling completely frustrated and helpless to stop it, I usually have one thing to say: You have drama in your life because you choose to.
Proverbs 26:20 tells us, “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.” In short, drama only survives if you feed it. Bickering, quarreling, back-biting and gossip–drama–is like a fire that will consume whatever it can. It will consume your time, your conversations, your thought life, all your energy, and eventually your community as well. And like a fire, the trick to extinguishing it is to cut off its nourishment. To end drama, you have to starve it.
This strategy has 2 key applications–
Number one: Don’t participate in an argument that isn’t your own. If one of your friends comes to you with a problem about another girl, feel free to listen, but don’t reinforce her self-righteousness. Every story has two sides, so it’s very dangerous, if not counter-productive, to give advice when you’ve only heard one perspective. Instead, encourage your friend to go directly to the person involved. If it is between two people, it should stay that way.
I have a roommate who is particularly good about this. She is perhaps the most discreet person I know, and she has no tolerance for drama. After having lived with her for 2 years, I now know better than to try and gossip about someone in her presence. If I do, she will offer nothing to the conversation, and she’ll eventually change the subject. Her discretion has served as a safeguard against drama in our house, and our surrounding relationships.
Number two: If you are directly involved in the drama, don’t involve anyone else in the situation. Go straight to the person or people who have hurt you, and gently communicate your feelings. If they refuse to listen, then you need to forgive them and move on. Don’t talk to other people about it. Don’t try to get other people on your side. Just leave it behind you in God’s hands, and consider whether there might be a better friend group for you.
I know this last part may seem extreme, but if you have friends that are constantly producing drama, beware of their influence on you! Just as Scripture tells us that a little bit of yeast ruins the whole batch of dough (1 Cor. 5:6) your friends’ behavior WILL pull you down. It is only a matter of time.
So if you have drama in your life, consider whether you are contributing to it. Not all drama is a result of your own actions, but most of us contribute at least a bit. And the greatest tragedy of all is that while we waste hours, days, months and years arguing about cliques, fighting over guys, and gossiping behind one another’s backs, we ignore the dying around us. Instead of bringing hope to the lost, we are focused on ourselves and our own problems. People are going to Hell, but we are so concerned with how short Jennifer’s dress was at church this morning, that we lose sight of the things that truly matter.
That is the real problem with drama–it’s nothing but a distraction from our true calling–to be ministers of the Gospel. So consider how you spend your time. Is drama preventing you from sharing the light of Christ with a dark and dying world? If so, it doesn’t have to stay that way. If drama only survives when it is fed, then you have some choices to make.