This side of eternity, people are going to vent. I know that’s so shocking to you, but it’s true.
Think about the past few years with the pandemic, governmental and organizational failures, and fallen leaders. The cost of everything keeps going up while the availability of just about everything continues to remain tight. And the natural thing we humans do is to default by grumbling. Venting. Complaining.
Sometimes, it feels like you just have to let it out or you’re going to pop. But do you really need to vent about your unbearable boss who you meet at the end of your morning’s grueling commute? There’s a mountain of stuff more important to grumble about these days.
But venting is risky. If you unburden yourself with the wrong person, you’ll never be able to recall those feelings. People who complain too much get tagged as negative, a complainer, or someone who never sees the good.
Ethan Kross, author of the book Chatter says it all. “We want to connect with other people who can help validate what we’re going through, and venting really does a pretty good job at fulfilling that need. It feels good to know there’s someone there to rely on who cares enough to take time to listen.”
But both the Bible and data suggest that there is venting, and then there is venting. Sometimes we get stuck in the “feel good” mode of venting. If all we do is vent, we never move to the place where we address both the external and internal problems.
So, how do we promote healthy venting? Also, how do we nip unhealthy venting in the bud? Here are four tips to use.
Venting Carefully. Just because you see a road doesn’t make it a great way to go, especially if there’s a “Do Not Enter” sign. Just because someone feels like venting doesn’t automatically make it right, or give them the go-ahead. It must be approached with wisdom and discretion, two attributes missing in lots of people that feel they have the spiritual gift of venting.
But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. Matthew 12:36 NIV
Venting Constructively. Like a piston that pushes out exhaust, it then immediately pulls in fresh air and fuel, so it is with venting. While there is an initial emotional “release” with venting, it’s never to end there. It must lead to building up and correction. Venting for venting’s sake is never constructive or a solution to anything except more hurt and pain.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29 NIV
Venting Peacefully. When we start venting, it’s so easy to fall into our long-practiced habit of uncontrolled anger. When we vent because we’ve been hurt, our rights have been violated, or because our expectations were not met, then we’re trading on ground that God claims responsibility for. So, we must tread carefully, with a goal of restoration, making peace.