The cursor blinked on my screen. “Send” or “delete?” Writing an email to a friend, I had softly vented about something that had been eating at me. It involved something both of us were involved in and I knew she would understand.
But something made me pause. First, the question that came to mind was, “is my venting going to benefit her or discourage her?” Sure, I knew she would listen, but since my frustrations involved something she was also involved in, would it discourage her as well? Would it foster an embittered spirit in her just like it did me?
Just as quickly, a second question came to mind, “Have you vented to God about this first?” Well, no. Of course not. My default mode is to share with a friend when I get discouraged. It hadn’t even occurred to me to “vent” to God.
With that, I pressed delete. Then awhile later when I was in my car, I decided I would vent to God. Aloud, I started complaining – even in more detail than I had in my unsent email – and little by little I felt the tension drain from me. My thoughts began to fill with gratefulness for the good things within the discouraging situation.
Then out of nowhere, I heard myself praying, “Father, please provide for [this need].” I was shocked at what I heard coming out of my mouth. My whole complaint revolved around an unmet need, and I hadn’t even considered asking God to meet it.
That day I decided I was going to make it my goal not to vent to anyone unless I vent to God first, particularly if that friend could be negatively affected herself by my emotions. I realize there are exceptions, like if I’m so emotional I can’t think straight TO pray. In that case, I need to choose to vent to a friend who isn’t involved in the area in which I’m struggling. That way I don’t bring two of us down.
What about you? Do you see this being a challenge in your life the way it is in mine? How do you think “venting to God” first would eliminate disunity in all types of areas, namely in families, churches, or friendship circles?