i’ve said many things that i wish i hadn’t… in ways that i wish i hadn’t. this has been an ongoing struggle in my life and the longer i live the more i wish i could keep my mouth shut. the fact is that i actually can, but i choose not to… that’s the really sobering thought… i choose to be this way. there is this idea that is so popular in our culture that advocates the practice of “venting.” truth be told, i cannot remember a single time when i did this that i actually felt better afterward. nearly always during these rants, my words are severe, over-the-top, critical, and in truth…murderous… that’s the reality that hit me the hardest. Jesus told us that it was good that we knew not to kill each other, but He then amplified the admonition to not having hatred, or even unchecked anger towards each other. He essentially said that by spewing insults and venom at or about each other, we are committing the same act as murder in our hearts. i see this as a very big cultural issue, with its tendrils digging deep within the fabric of our being…effecting the ways we view one another. if we will stop to think about it, when we harbor that kind of emotion and anger toward each other, we objectify and dehumanize one another. this small thing… our speech… is a major weapon that is being used to tear away at the very fabric of existence. words carry enormous weight… think about how the world was created… “God said…” in this existence, our Creator has designed words to be powerful… the very tool that God used to create existence is the tool that is being used to degrade so much of it… irony.
but we can change.
we can choose to be different.
and by changing the way we express ourselves, we can also begin to see what Scripture calls a “renewing of the mind.” (Rom. 12:1-2) there is an incredible passage in the Bible in the book of Proverbs… it levels me nearly every day as i think about it…. chapter 29 verse 11: “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” so, that makes me ask questions like, “which am i?…” i have found that of the many, many times that i have vented, damage has been done… but of the few, few times that i’ve held back… and measured my words and attitude, effective relational change has taken place. and what’s more is that it has affected my view of the people or person in question. it has helped me to care more and be compassionate and realize that we are all human and we all have our various struggles and shortcomings.
for me, to “vent” is usually for me to assume a superior judgmental place over someone else… a place that only God occupies… this is the problem that people call being “judged.” i believe full well that we should communicate with one another. i believe that we should speak to those that we are concerned about because of their actions. i believe that we should speak to people and not about them… and i also believe that the way we do it is of utmost importance. there’s nothing wrong with confrontation. it’s a word that has taken on a very negative connotation. but in truth, it’s a concept that can be of the greatest opportunity if we will allow it. i have found that i can speak to my wife and/or children in the most aggravated and harsh tone with a very valid point and all it does is drive yet another wedge into our lines of communication and further divide relations between fallen human beings… or i can calmly speak the same message, in love and compassion, but with full conviction, and it changes everything… maybe even my viewpoint… because when we are calm and loving, we are open to others having opinions too… because we see them as what they are… human beings.
my daughters didn’t clean their room the other day. we had told them to. we had given careful instructions. but they didn’t. i got angry. i thought i was calm, but my wife says i wasn’t… so i got mad at her… and she at me… and then the “discussion” totally derailed into a “who-can-win-this-battle”… and we got nowhere. as i went and spoke to my girls and told them i was sorry (yes it was excruciatingly difficult to do), and hugged them, i realized that i could not undo what had been done. at best i could put a band-aid on it and hope it heals up, and doesn’t make too nasty of a scar… and work towards never making the same wound again… hoping that through time the good will continually crowd out the scars on the landscape of their souls… because i want them to not be that way and i want them to know of my unfailing, unequivocal love for them. i want them to be my little girls. afterward…. i went downstairs… to my wife… and i had some explaining/apologizing and most importantly some listening to do. as i approached her that way, she softened and i could feel the connection with the love of my life and mate of my soul being restored…. but there is a serious caveat that needs to be reemphasized…. even though apologies can be made, and forgiveness given… things can never be undone and words can never be unsaid, and therefore sometimes relationships can be permanently damaged, as well as hearts… all in name of venting or what we might even call pitching a fit.