It's a casual Saturday night, the grill is sizzling, and there is an aroma of burgers in the air. But food isn't the only thing cooking. Somehow the conversation has turned into a rolling boil, and I find myself venting about a long-ago transgression.
My rant opens the floor, and my companions join in to highlight aggravations, annoyances, hurt feelings, and resentments.
We eventually move on to tamer topics, and I don't give the conversation much thought until the next day. It is then that I realize my error- my venting didn't accomplish anything useful and only stirred up negative emotions and feelings in and about others.
Some argue that venting is reasonable, healthy and necessary. Otherwise, wouldn’t we all walk around like a tea kettle and eventually blow our lids?
But, I wonder - is venting really good or is there a better way?
To answer, let’s explore why we vent and what the Bible has to say about it.
Bottom line- we vent to express intense feelings of emotion to seek validation, justification, and empathy. Anger, which is our natural response to our will being violated, is at the very heart of venting. When we feel mistreated, wronged, overlooked, or when our desires aren’t met- anger & frustrations surface and venting becomes a natural mechanism we use to express our feelings in the hope that justice will be served.
We love to rally the troops and tend to vent to an audience to garner validation and reinforcements for our cause (real or imagined.)
Somehow, when we vent to others insults, contempt and character assassinations effortlessly spring forth!
Venting really isn’t a pretty business.
What does the Bible say?
Many Proverbs address the difference between the speech of a fool and that of the wise:
Proverbs 29:11- “Fools give full vent to their rage; but the wise bring calm in the end.”
Proverbs 18:2- “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”
The foolish say everything they are thinking and give full vent to their emotions; they don’t seek counsel and don’t consider the ramifications. The wise person pauses to gather their thoughts, they take control of their tongue and will seek sensible counsel.
The Apostle Matthew further cautioned in Matthew 5:22 that we will be held accountable when we express anger or contempt for our “brother or sister” or when we demean another person.
Scripture is clear that venting to our fellow man is the way of the foolish and doesn't accomplish what we want; instead, it impacts our relationship with God, with others and carries consequences to which we will be held accountable.
What can we do?
Realize that venting to another person is imprudent because that person is not your refuge, not your source of healing or comfort. Only God can provide what we are seeking.
So, how about we just vent to God? Give everything we are feeling to Him in humble prayer and ask that He guide us in our feelings and directs our responses.
Journaling might help provide a healthy outlet for expression; writing secret words to God.
Heck, take an intense boxing or exercise class to release pent-up aggression instead of using words that darken our hearts.
If we just cannot help ourselves and feel the need to express our feelings to another person- guard your words carefully. Examine your heart and be sure you aren't throwing another person under the bus and asking others to join you in running them over.
Use your words wisely!
Father, thank you for the gift of emotion. Guide us Lord in understanding how to use our emotions wisely and help us to select ways to voice our feelings of hurt, anger, and disappointment in a manner that is helpful and not harmful. Forgive us for our past tirades and may we know that we are always welcome in your presence as you are our solace and refuge.
“The one who associates with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” (NET Bible) ~ Proverbs 13:20