I was invited to join a circle of friends, women who gathered in mutual support twice a month. I was overjoyed, welcomed into the company of good women.

In between meetings, I’d occasionally receive their calls: inquiries and invitations to interesting events. It was nice.

Until it wasn’t.hatchet

One evening the phone rang, and when I didn’t pick up until the fourth ring,  I was chided by the caller. Excuse me, I enjoined. We have a large house, and I walk slowly, as older people often do. A lecture ensued, but I stood my ground. What was deathly important about answering a phone fast just because she was the caller? I was the called and in my hallowed home. We chatted beyond the chide, and we were fine.

Silly me, the called at home.

When I walked into the group meeting the next evening (note the time – almost as fast as a game of Gossip at a seventh grade sleepover party), two of the women leaned in to share how they were sometimes busy and couldn’t pick up the phone at its first or second ring, with specifics such as “I’d just crack an egg into the bowl and had my hands full of hamburger being mixed for meatloaf.” The empathetic talk went around the room for several minutes.

I noted that the caller was hanging her head…and then it hit me.

She had called each of the women in the group to complain about me because I hadn’t immediately answered her call – ! She devoted time and energy to distribute negativity into punity for something that wasn’t even Biblical sin. Character assassination because I wasn’t quick to the phone?! It defies common sense, but it happened.

I’ve since learned to listen closely when a woman sidles up to cheer me or compliment me in a manner that implies another has derided me vastly and publicly, as some gossip devotees are wont to do. The telephone can be a weapon of evil intent, a hatchet to the heart, if one allows. The web of ill will is extensive, belying the common thought that women support each other…some is just nasty, my friends! Thank goodness, I didn’t learn the junior high girl games…nor do I need to win at all cost.

Thank goodness, God doesn’t expect us to respond to His call on the first ring. His line is always open and full of love.

He told me to get new friends – so I did!