“It’s just not fair!” I’ll text my friend. And then, because I’m a writer, it will be quite a few paragraphs full of emotion and typos before I’ll stop with “End rant. Sorry for venting.” She’ll assure me that it’s totally fine, and that it’s good to talk to someone about your struggles.
And I agree with her. Mostly. But not completely. I think that venting is okay, and yes, we’re not meant to live this life alone. We need to let people in. We need to let them see not only our put-togetheredness but our messiness too.
However, there are ways to vent that are selfish, wrong, and unhelpful, and there are ways that are healthy, relieving, and helpful.
To be honest, I haven’t really figured out the lines between the two . . . Sometimes they can be a bit blurry. I’m still sorting it out too. But I have some general things I’ve been learning that I want to share.
For example, venting isn’t wrong. But complaining is wrong. (See James 5:9 and Philippians 2:14-15.) And selfishness sure isn’t Biblical. Well, it’s in the Bible, but not in a good way. 😉 Neither is discouraging our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ desirable. We also don’t want to continually be speaking badly of people or gossiping, which venting can easily turn into. Especially if we are speaking badly about our family. I don’t know about you, but the people I’m most often tempted to vent about is my family members—not good!
It’s okay to say “I’m struggling to have patience” or “Someone’s words/actions hurt me” and ask for prayer or help or a hug. It’s okay—important—to tell people what’s going on and let them in. But we want to be careful with what we say, especially about other people.
On the other hand, venting is sometimes necessary. It’s not good to let emotions bottle up with no outlet. It’s just about finding the right outlet. Sometimes that can be going for a run, or singing at the top of your voice in the car by yourself, or writing to your heart’s content, or furiously cleaning the bathtub—depending on how you best process life.
But sometimes also, the outlet just has to be something living. Here’s where self-control is important. When you simply need to speak it to someone, you want to make sure you’re doing it in a healthy way. Not just complaining, gossiping, etc. That can be very difficult because emotions are like water . . . when you give it room to release pressure, it will do so in a rush that can be hard to stop or slow down. So what we intended to just be a simple comment about an event or a plea for prayer turns into a tirade against humanity, and we find ourselves in the wake, wondering what on earth just happened.
Here’s what I want to suggest for both you and me: why don’t we pray first? If we pray before we vent, it puts things back into their proper place. It means we seek God first and give Him our heart before anyone else. And when we’re talking to the Creator of the universe, it helps put our smaller issues into perspective. When we’re telling Him how someone frustrated or hurt us, we might tend to remember all we’ve done to God. Praying tends to have a calming effect too.
Did you know that it’s okay to vent to God? That’s really the only way to vent and feel real relief. God can take all our messiness and burdens and ugliness. We are never too much for Him. He is never surprised by anything. And He loves us. His compassion is perfect in a way that no human’s ever can be. Remember, of course, that you are talking to the King of Kings. But just look at Psalms to see plenty of examples of venting at God. Poetic venting perhaps, but venting nonetheless.
Once you’ve done that, you may no longer feel the need to vent. Or if you do, it will likely be an entirely different kind of venting: healthy venting, rather then selfish venting.
Your sister in Christ,
P. S. I think you should know that it took a lot of convincing from some pretty wise people for me to post this. I just feel like such a hypocrite, because praying before venting is something I do not do a good job of. So I get how hard the challenge is I’m proposing. But if we rely on God, surely we can start refocusing on Him when tempted to vent in an unhealthy way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hello, my name is Sara! I’m seventeen years old, I am a black-mold fighter, and I like to read, write, act, make jewelry, and have adventures. Most of which tend to be with my family whether it’s a long hike up a mountain or a fun new board game. I also write for Th!nk magazine, a free, online, Christian magazine: mythinkmag.wordpress.com. One of my favorite Scriptures is Psalm 34:5: “Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”