Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I just need to vent, but then again...

Have you ever heard someone say (or, maybe you've said it) "I just need to vent"? Or, maybe it's been said like this..."I need to get something off my chest".

I have definitely been guilty of "venting", whether I've forewarned the listener or not. The funny thing is I usually never "vented" to anyone who had anything to do with the buildup of heat inside me. Weird how that works.

A "vent" is something that releases a buildup of heat or smoke. Kitchens, clothes dryers, and automobiles all have vents because of the inherent buildup of heat in each. My question is this: do humans have an inherent buildup of heat inside requiring occasional releases of steam? In other words, is there no way to avoid getting heated up, and thus we were designed to "vent" when necessary?

For example, do we have no choice getting angry when a driver cuts in front of us dangerously (or not) when driving in traffic? What about when we get laid off from our jobs unjustly (or justly)? How about when our children completely rebel against us? Is it healthy for us to "vent" each time something does not go according to our plans?

I am not referring to talking to a wise friend or counselor about difficulties beyond our ability to cope with. Everyone experiences situations in which we need help coping.

A definition of the word "vent" that I am talking about is this: to give free play or expression (an emotion, passion, etc.): to vent rage. ( In other words, it is what happens when we get frustrated and need to verbalize our frustrations with the first set of ears that comes along.

I remember a time a number of years ago when members of my church who had a key to the building were scheduled to lock up the building after services. Each person would have to stay until every soul left the building. We were scheduled to do this about once every two months. On one occasion I was scheduled to do this after a mid week service, which wrapped up around 8:30pm. Since I had to get up early for work the next morning, I was anxious to get out of there asap. Well, I walked through the building around 9:15pm and one of the pastors was still conversing with some folks. I said something to the pastor and he said "go ahead and leave. I'll lock up myself."

The buildup of heat inside me needed an immediate vent. I couldn't believe that I waited around for 45 minutes, and then was told I didn't need to lock up. I stormed through the building, venting the whole way. I slammed the front doors, and yelled at one of my best friends, who happened to be one of the pastors. As I said, I was venting.

The problem is, the buildup of heat inside me really had nothing to do with that particular incident. The fact is the pastor in question was actually ministering to someone in need. He wasn't casually conversing. I just had a stinking attitude back then, which meant I didn't like to do anything that inconvenienced me. I was often angry, unhappy, always complaining about this or that. (One thing I complained about was that no one wanted to hang out with me. Ironic, huh?)

The fact is angry people are destructive, emotionally, and sometimes physically. I really don't think I need to argue this point. I think everyone would agree with that statement.

I have learned that I can control the buildup of heat inside me by simply choosing to be joyful, or at least to be at peace most of the time. I try to focus on the positive, blessings in my life in every situation. I am not perfect, but I am pressing on.

In the last 3 months, I became unemployed after 20+ years with the same company, and my father passed away from cancer. As I said, I've not been perfect, but I have worked hard to remain thankful, positive and hopeful, which is the antidote to being anxious, angry, and bitter.

If you're a Christian, like me, you can remain at peace knowing God loves you and is in control. Like Joseph in the Old Testament, what some have meant for evil, God will turn to good. (Genesis 50:20) God has something up His sleeve, and it's good.

If you're not a Christian, you have the opportunity to be at peace knowing God loves you and is in control. I have lived both ways, the first 24 years of my life as a non-Christian, and I can tell you from experience the only way to avoid that buildup of heat is to release it to God before it gets built up. He can handle it. (He must have some awesome vents in Heaven.)

So, who's down with some air-conditioned, vent free living?

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