Every human being has been there. “I need to vent.”
Over my life I have always been told that I need to have someone to vent to. Everyone has to do it. But I have since had that concept shattered.
Before I get started, there are some things about me that factor into this grand revelation…
- I over analyze EVERYTHING. No, not some things – everything. While this is great in regards to attention to detail, it is one of my greatest weaknesses. He’s working on that though.
- I have a tendency to be a control freak. I want to understand everything. The “Because I said so” answer to my many “why” questions as a child were rarely received well. And let’s be honest, it’s not much better as an adult.
- I don’t forget things easily. AKA – I have a hard time letting things go.
I read a couple blogs the other day, that truly convicted my heart. The topic: Venting. (Is it OK to VENT? by Mike Leake and Why Venting Your Emotions is the Worst Choice by Kim Sorgius Read them! Great stuff!) Simply put, I never knew it was wrong. I mean, according to the Bible, wrong. As in there are scriptures that back it up. 2 Corinthians tells us we are supposed to take every thought captive. There is nothing captive about the thoughts we are venting. Proverbs 29:11 says I am a fool for venting my emotions and that a wise person holds it in.
So why do I do it, Lord? I get frustrated when I have analyzed all the details and I still don’t understand. When I don’t understand I feel out of control especially if action or submission is required. Sadly, I feel the need to take it to a friend, “verbally process my thoughts” which is really just a fancy way of saying I rehashed this frustrating scenario to another person so that they can get frustrated and agree with me so my feelings are validated. And yet, I will comply with whatever is being asked of me and I will be over this situation tomorrow. But, my friend now holds a tarnished perspective of what or who I vented to her about. Its effect is similar to that of gossip. And while most of us are aware of the dangerous effect of gossip we are completely ignorant of the effects of venting.
I never thought venting was wrong so I listened to others vent. Venting is really just dumping your burdens and anxieties on someone else while simultaneously asking them not to offer correction, direction, or counsel. Psalm 55:22 tells us to cast our cares on the Lord. It was never anyone else’s burden to carry. Whether you want to or not you are asking someone else to take your personal (one sided) perspective assuming that it won’t change their own perspective.
With all that said, it never occurred to me how on guard I have to be about listening. I listen well. I retain the information and keep what’s necessary confidential. That’s all it takes, right? Not once had I considered that maybe there are some things I just shouldn’t be listening to. Let me guess, your most obvious and first thought is, “Duh, you shouldn’t listen to gossip.” But if we are honest with ourselves, venting is often glorified gossip. And its effects can be detrimental not only to the subject of the vent but to the character of the venter.
My problem is that I don’t forget what people tell me, especially if it is negative. So, I have resolved not to be a dumping ground for people’s emotions. I choose not to listen to what Susie said or did to Sandy (which was probably a misunderstanding) that has Sandy in an uproar of emotion for the next 24 hours. She’ll get over it and I won’t forget it. Don’t get me wrong, the Bible tells us to seek godly counsel. If you are that friend whom someone goes to for godly counsel, praise the Lord! But I encourage you to make it very clear that you are not a dumping ground.
It is the sole responsibility of the venter to take it to the Lord. Pray! Who better to talk to about your problems than the Lord. So I am choosing to take my issues to the Lord. If I am constantly going to a person to vent (sometimes disguised as seeking godly counsel) instead of going to God, am I really trusting the Lord to comfort me and give me direction? I don’t want to be considered a fool by anyone, especially the Lord. So I encourage you to pray. Pray when you don’t understand. Pray when you don’t agree. Pray when you have to submit your will. As Paul says, pray without ceasing!