By Marc Rademaker
“I need to vent!”
We have all come home after a long day and have said this phrase. Whatever worked us up like this, we think, is so frustrating and important that we need to share it with someone else. And what’s wrong with sharing our feelings? Well, nothing is wrong with sharing our feelings, but often “venting” becomes more than just “sharing.” When venting, ask yourself these questions:
● Am I putting myself above someone else?
● Am I being overly critical or judgmental of someone?
● Am I sharing something that shouldn’t be shared?
It should be apparent that putting ourselves above others and venting about their seemingly negative traits is never a productive or holy thing. But it is so easy to do. This may be the biggest red flag of all. All it takes to vent is to open your mouth and let the words just spew out however they please. At this point, we have lost control of whatever emotion drove us to vent at all. That is why it is so easy: we just let go and don’t worry about what we are saying due to the excuse that it is “venting.” We should never make excuses for tearing people down or for letting our words take control of us.
“A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back.”Proverbs 29:11
Maybe the most important question to ask ourselves is: Why do I feel the need to vent?
Our intentions in venting aren’t always (but definitely can be) to put down others. Rather, I normally find myself wanting advice about a situation or person when I vent but let my emotions get the better of me in the process of seeking that advice. Asking for advice is a very good and
practical thing to do, but when the language we use is such that the dignity of others is cast aside and we elevate ourselves, we need to reevaluate the situation. I have always been taught the “24-Hour Rule” when feeling a strong emotion that could end up blowing the situation out of proportion. Often, waiting 24 hours can allow us to think more clearly about the circumstances and to be more fully prepared to evaluate them and to then ask for advice.
Now this begs the question that I have sometimes struggled with: Is it wrong to feel angry or frustrated with someone – to feel that I need to vent?
Absolutely not. We are given emotions for a reason. When our emotions are used for the right reasons, they indicate to us how to operate and how to interact with others. Their balance is what tells us what needs to be changed. It is when our emotions are in control that they can become tipped toward the wrong side of the scale. When we lose control of what we feel, ultimately the same evil that made us feel angry or frustrated is winning, and we are letting it fester. When that evil and negativity inside of you grows, turn to God. Tell Him how you feel and listen. He can allow you to see the worth in everyone involved and can diffuse the situation. He is always willing to listen.
So next time you feel that “need to vent,” turn first to the Lord, giving Him the raw emotion He created for a purpose. And if you still feel the need for human advice, wait a day and talk through it rationally with a friend. Spread positive air. Be a fan, not a vent.