A car cut you off in traffic. The waitress was inattentive and brought you the wrong dish. Your supervisor gave you an assignment that you don't like. Your spouse forgot to do something you asked him/her AGAIN. Your teenager left a sharpie marker in his jeans that went through the laundry. Someone posted something on facebook that offended you. You got a text/email that pushed your last button. You're about to give that person a piece of your mind...DON'T BLOW IT!
We've all blown it, haven't we? From grumbling under your breath to venting at the next unfortunate soul who bumps into you, the natural, easy thing to do is to let it all spill out. While the culture may say that 'venting' is healthy, how healthy can venting be if afterwards we are compelled to say "sorry, I just needed to blow off some steam"? When you vent, you are foolishly spewing what's inside you on those around you.
So, what is venting?
Venting is Foolish: Proverbs 12:16 tells us that fools quickly show that they are upset, but the wise ignore insults. King Solomon weighs in with what he learned "And a fool’s voice is known by his many words" in Ecclesiastes 5. And we can go to Proverbs 10:19 to read "The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words." No room for error there. My favorite paraphrased proverb? "Fools are known by the flapping of their gums." How often have you been on the receiving end of that kind of wordy, frustration fueled rant and walked away with a diminished view of the person unloading his/her frustrations?
Venting is Incendiary: Consider recent texts, emails or facebook posts you may have written and sent in the heat of your anger or frustration. Think about how you may have spewed your frustrations on someone in the heat of the moment recently. How differently could those situations look if you’d given yourself a time out with God before speaking/texting/emailing/facebooking? Venting turns the heat of the moment up and is not peace seeking. In fact, Proverbs 29:11 tell us that “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” When was the last time someone thanked you for running up one side of them and down the other with your words?
Venting is Complaining: Listen to those around you all day long, at work, on the radio, television, coworkers...the world groans with its complaints, evidence that that contentment is countercultural. God knows this and speaks to us about it in Philippians 2:14, where we're told to do everything without complaining or arguing. Think about the things you complain and vent about. At the core, are they even important? In fact, if you think long enough, you may even realize that you are complaining about some pretty trivial "offenses"...likely misconceptions and misunderstandings. Did you ever walk away from being on the receiving or witnessing end of a rant feeling full of life and esteemed?
Venting is Selfish: Yes, venting is the ongoing personal crusade to impart your wisdom and perspective on the world around you when it bumps into you. Right? You've got to speak your mind! What if instead, you stopped, put on the Word of God and sought to see your situation through God’s eyes before responding? Instead of speaking YOUR mind, speak Christ’s mind instead. Choose words that give life.
Enough is enough. It's time to realize the power of our words; they hold life and death. How we respond to the hurting, broken people around us- including your spouse- matters. Jesus warns us about the eternal perspective in Matthew 12:36 “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.“
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Can't control yourself, you've got to vent, you say? That's interesting, because self control is a fruit of the Spirit. Notice that all the fruits look outward to others, except the last fruit-self control- looks to oneself. It does not speak solely to abstinence from drinks and food, but to controlling of the temper, the tongue, and the desires in your life. The antidote for venting is getting in God's Word, submitting your mind and tongue to Him, and choosing words that give life.
A little humility goes a long way. Think about the last time you vented; is there an opportunity to speak the mind of Christ into that situation?
Scott & I experienced our first Weekend to Remember two months after divorcing each other, when in the midst of our marriage reconciliation, I said STOP, we're not taking another step toward marriage without The Weekend to Remember. The speakers, the projects, the weekend gave us what we needed to seek and grant generous forgiveness, then build a marriage beyond our dreams on the Word of God. We've committed to going on a Weekend to Remember getaway every year because our marriage is worth the annual investment, and we NEVER want to end up in a place of isolation in our marriage again. You can read more about our experience here.
That is our experience, watch this couple share their Weekend to Remember experience: