To Vent or Not to Vent

“If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” James 3:2

I recently watched the movie, “Sense and Sensibility,” again [If you don’t understand the fascination with Jane Austen then I can’t explain it to you. It’s just one of those things!]. One of the characters, the youngest daughter, says, “I like that couple. They talk about things. We don’t talk about anything. Anything except the weather.”

We live in a society where we talk about things. On and on. Over and over. On TV, the radio, Facebook, and –believe it or not–at church. We take molehills and make mountains ranges out of them, effortlessly. We discuss ad nauseum topics that have no real import or relevance in the grand scheme of things.

Someone once said that before getting upset about something we might consider asking ourselves the question, “Will this matter in twenty five years?” If the answer is “no” then maybe we should just let it go.

So…to vent or not? Isn’t it healthy to let it all hang out, to share our anger and opinions? Well, that depends. In some cases, it is important to share, but often we share way too much. The problem is that once said, words don’t go away. They hang in the air, like pollution that won’t let relationships grow. They cause barriers that keep us from spending time with that person, overlooking the past, and moving to a different plane in our relationship.

So when you are tempted to vent, to let that person “have it,” to write that hot letter, just pause, take a deep breath, pray about it, and sleep on it. Let time give perspective, and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit on what to do next.

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Obituary of Freedom

Her obit is in the paper today.
She died of open heart syndrome.
She gave and gave
And died smiling
A heart worn out,
Used up,
Spent for good.
Her heart skipped
Until it stopped,
Joy-filled.
Her age is listed.
It says simply: “old enough.”
Fearless,
She died with a question on her lips,
“And how are YOU?”

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Respect and Love on the Journey

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Hiking to the Channels in Southwest Virginia, with good friends. Spring 2014

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10

We love to hike, especially with friends. There is something relaxing about the exertion of being outside, walking together, noting flowers, trees, views, and putting one foot in front of the other toward a common destination.

Walking the same path on a hike, we share the trail, gently helping one another as we climb or descend, talking or walking in silence, allowing the sound of the woods to fill the spaces between our words. The common experience bonds us so that at the end, often sweaty and sore, we can look at one another and feel a sense of accomplishment about sharing a trail for the day.

In life we often walk different trails. We tend to love our own, born as it is of our upbringing, our own points of view, and our firm persuasions, based on our personal experience. In my life, the challenge is to look to the right and the left and to see others on the path of life, on distinctly different trails and to love and respect them where they are. I don’t think the goal of life is to convince them to walk on my particular trail but to first, with the eyes of love, get to know theirs and love them right where they are, all the while wanting what is best and most loving. If invited, I can share the beauty of my particular journey, and the convictions that lead me to walk this particular path. But first, I must acknowledge that there are many beautiful paths on the road of life, all occupied by those God has lovingly created. I must ask myself hard questions every day: Am I staying true to my path? Am I loving other’s right where they are? Am I enjoying God as I walk along or am I spending my time being resentful of or hating others’ paths? These are questions that guide my days.

Loving others on their paths does not mean that we agree with them; it means that even if we do disagree, we do it without being disagreeable. As the song says, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” One step. One foot in front of the other. Walking together.

Prayer:

Lord, help me to love others on their paths today.