Is It Okay to Vent?

“I feel like I am going to explode. I know that it is unhealthy to hold stuff in. So I just need to vent to someone. I don’t need advice, counsel, or anything—I just need to express all of my feelings.”

I’ve heard such statements numerous times. In fact I’ve heard something similar pouring from my own lips. Social media has given a new medium in which we can vent; namely Facebook. Just scroll down your news feed and within 15-20 posts you are likely to read some sort of complaining, whining, griping, or venting.

But is it biblical? Is it okay for us to vent to other people? Is it innocent for us to just get stuff off our chest via Facebook status updates?

What Scripture Says

There are several Proverbs that outline the difference between the speech of a fool and the speech of the wise. Proverbs 29:11 directly addresses our question: “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” Only the full says everything that is on his heart. A wise person holds back and attempts to get clarity of thought and control of emotion before “letting it rip”.

Proverbs 18:2 relates as well: “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion”. It is only a fool that says, “I don’t want to learn or receive counsel—I just want to express my opinion”.

The Scriptures are clear, venting to our fellow man is the way of the fool: whether this venting is in the form of typing out our feelings on Facebook, venting about someone else to a trusted friend, yelling at an imaginary person sitting in a chair in a counseling session, or letting someone know how you really feel about them.

Why Do We Vent?

Consider the reasons why we vent. Why are we tempted to go on Facebook and express our feelings? What is going on in our hearts that make our emotions so out of control? Likely it is because we have a good desire that is out of control. We vent because we feel mistreated. Justice is not being served. We vent because we want to bring about justice.

Occasionally we vent because we want empathy. We want others to feel for us and with us. We need people on our team. We feel justified when others surround us and tell us that our desire is good. And so we vent and rally the troops. We get people on our side against an enemy (whether real or perceived).

Why is this foolish? It is foolish because people are not our refuge. Yes, they can be a means in which God provides healing. But venting never provides the healing that we long for. In the case of venting, our bonding with another human is based upon aggression and not a humble trust in the Lord. Such a relationship is not healthy.

Venting never accomplishes what you want it to accomplish.

So what is one to do? You feel like you are going to explode. You’ve got to give expression to these feelings. You hurt. You are angry. You are anxious. Journaling might help but you still feel like you have to give expression to these feelings.

God-ward Venting

I am convinced that our amount of venting to our fellow man is directly proportional to our view of God. If we believe that God is sovereign and that He has the ability and intention to eradicate evil then we realize that “the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God”. We don’t need to vent to make things happen. Furthermore, if we truly believe that God cares for us then we are more prone to “cast our anxieties upon him” because we believe that He actually listens, actually comforts, and actually cares.

You don’t have to let emotions bubble without expressing them. God has given us the Psalms for a reason. They are a guide to our God-ward venting. They help us cast our cares upon the Lord.

Conclusion

Is it okay to “vent”? Not to our fellow man. But it is biblical for us to cast all of our cares upon the Lord. If this comes in the form of a “vent” then so be it. But I wouldn’t expect the Lord to join in a pity party. He’s likely to deal with the inordinate desires that is causing the venting in the first place. And perhaps that is why we so often go to our fellow man. They provide a mock and temporary comfort.

But not the Lord.

He is after your heart. And that might mean that He will not give you a “like” on Facebook but He’ll provide comfort as He simultaneously addresses our idolatry problem.

Go to the Lord we must.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13182607074543277164 Kara Chupp

    In the midst of our deepest hurting…Psalm 62:8 was my go-to:
    “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”
    Just that phrase– “pour out your heart before Him”. Such a huge comfort.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08034192017775511612 Mike Leake

      Thanks for sharing that passage Kara. The Psalms are always a great place to put words to our emotions.

  • http://stevenhpape.wordpress.com/ stevenhpape

    I totally agree about the Godward venting and the connection to that in the Psalms. Pour out your complaints to God, after all he’s big enough to take it.

    But the don’t vent against people advice, based on just two verses in the book of proverbs is on shaky ground. The New Testament has a lot to say about anger, if we take this into account then the conclusion (or at least the conclusion I come to) is different. Not totally different, but different.

    Ephesians 4:26 says “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” The first part of the verse is important, it says be angry. Yes, be angry. It’s not just OK to be angt, it actually says Be angry.

    It also says, “…and do not sin.” It is so easy to say or do things which are not in God’s will, so we have to guard against it. Not by suppressing anger, but by being angry in an appropriate way.

    But to make things complicated there are two words in the Greek of the New Testament. The first ‘orge’ is slow anger. It is the word used in the Ephesians verse and also the word used for the wrath of God. The other, ‘thumos’ is the word for quick tempered anger, and this is always wrong from a biblical point of view.

    The good news is that while God may be angry with us, he does not lose his temper with us. The bad news is that if we lose our temper with someone we are always wrong, even on Twitter and Facebook.

    But it can be directed against a person. God hates oppression, it is right to feel angry when we see someone abused or oppressed and this may cause us to get alongside the abused or put pressure on governments to end the oppression.

    Whichever way I doubt that would the the form of being abusive on social media.

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