If It's Not Your Story to Tell, Don't Tell It!

We all know that one person. The one who is the “bearer of news” even when it isn’t their news or story to tell. I learned a valuable lesson in high school about telling something I saw while in the administrator’s office. I was threatened with suspension, but grace was shown to me, and I am thankful about it, the situation that is and of course for grace. If it is not your story, don’t tell it!

If It's Not Your Story to Tell, Don't Tell It!

If It’s Not Your Story to Tell, Don’t Tell It!


When I walked into the office that day, the school administrator’s secretary was not at her desk. She popped her head out of his office and said to “wait right there”. I did; I waited. My eyes began to roam. They roamed across the personal items students gave her over the years. Then they roamed across her desk and that is where I saw it. The dreaded list that came at the end of every nine weeks. The list with the names of students who failed a subject(s). There was a name on that list, the name of one of my classmates.

It didn’t take long for the news to make it to the one who failed math. She seemed shocked, or she came across as shocked. How can you fail a subject and not know it? Or was she shocked that I knew something about her and had the nerve to tell her?

That night, my mom received a phone call from the mother of this girl. Her parents were angry I knew something and told it. They were going to the administrator with the matter and demand suspension. Telling something warranted a suspension?

I’ll never forget the feeling in the bottom of my stomach as I marched myself into the office the next morning. We arrived early so I could go talk with Mr. Whetsel before school started. I was ready for in-house suspension. I was ready to hear the words, “we will have to suspend you from school”. I was ready to place my head in the guillotine if it would have helped. While I hoped for the best, I expected the worst.

When I walked into the office, I was greeted with the same kindness and compassion that Mr. Whetsel always showed to me from the time I was in the first grade. As I told him about the situation and how the girl’s parents were coming to talk with him and ask that I be suspended, his eyes sparkled. Not a gross, perverted sparkle. But a sparkle of grace, a sparkle of compassion, a sparkle of the love of Jesus.

As Mr. Whetsel told me I was wrong by telling what I saw, but he blamed his secretary because she left confidential information out on her desk. He even used this time to teach me to keep my eyes up and not down. If I keep my eyes up and looking ahead, I can’t focus on the bad that is further down. To keep looking ahead.


I was instructed to apologize to the girl. That would not be easy because my mom told me to not talk with her, to avoid her because the family was trouble. I was more afraid of my mother than the school administrator, but I did it anyway.

At the first free moment between class, I went to the girl and apologized. She told me it was too late, that her parents were coming to talk to the administrator and that the school would suspend me. In my sarcastic way I said, “Mr. Whetsel already knows what I did, and he is not suspending me.” Her mouth dropped open; she a had a moment of speechlessness. She could not believe I told about the situation before her parents could say anything.

That was the last day I saw the girl at school. Her parents withdrew her and her brother and placed them in the public school. To this day, I still wonder if it was a scare tactic they tried to use on me and my family.

If it’s not your story to tell, you don’t tell it.” -Iyanla Vanzant


Recently I was asked how I would handle a confidential matter. What if I was accidentally subjected to it? I couldn’t help but laugh while explaining how I would handle it and told the interviewer I learned a valuable lesson because I lived through the experience in high school.

What I did in high school was gossip. I had a piece of juicy news that had to be shared. While words and lies of gossip hurt. I didn’t lie that day; I told the truth. I told something about another person. I told it in front of other girls. I wasn’t trying to hurt her, I wanted her to know that she would get an “F” on her report card in math. I wanted this girl to be forewarned. As if she didn’t already know she failed. I mean how do you fail a subject in school and not know it?

I did not think that day. I did not think how I would feel about that kind of news coming from a fellow student, of all people.

Even telling the truth about a bad situation wasn’t my story to tell.

If it is not your story to tell, don’t tell it.

If It's Not Your Story to Tell, Don't Tell It!


6 comments

  1. Boy, oh boy, the things we experience in high school. They can be life-altering events, indeed. Thank you for sharing this enlightening and poignant story. It is so essential and yet just as difficult to guard our tongues. There will be a few things shared in my next book that was extremely difficult to recall-let alone share. I recognize that feeling in your stomach that you described so beautifully.

    Thank you for sharing my dear sister in Christ. You made me smile while reading. I want to remember even as an adult to use wisdom when "sharing" things. Have a fantastic week, and God bless.

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    1. This was a life-altering event, for sure. This is the one life lesson I learned while a teen that will never leave my memory. To this day, I won't look down on a desk or at a computer screen while at someone's desk.
      Thank you for your kind words, Horace.

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  2. Such a timely reminder, Lori! So often we see stories posted on social media that are not that person's story to tell, often involving children.For the month of November, I've been posting our foster-adoption story. Knowing this is also our daughter's story, I'm posting with her permission and also being careful to not tell details of her birth family that are not mine to tell. I don't want to be guilty of sharing a story that is not mine! ~Deb

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    1. Thanks, Deb. It is so important to remember we need to respect other people's stories.

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  3. Lori, I agree if it is not your story to tell we should not tell it. We often tend to think it is OK to tell someone else's story when it is not. We have to be mindful of what we say because it could cause problems for that person or even hurt them. Thanks for the reminder...I see it every day on Facebook. Have a blessed day!!

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    1. I think if more people realized this we would see a difference in our world today. Thanks for visiting!

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