Do you ever “vent” about problems to other people? If there is a crisis in your life, do you call up a friend to fill them in on all the details and examine every aspect, hoping to find peace or a sense of control of the “situation” by getting it all out?
I used to do this all the time. If someone hurt my feelings or a situation upset me, I would frequently spill my guts to my husband at the first opportunity. Or call up a girlfriend if he was unavailable.
Do you ever find yourself talking about the same situation over and over with several people?
When I would get upset, I used to vent to anyone who would listen. I would talk and talk about the people or situation- thinking that by getting it out I would feel better.
Even by using the word vent- I think we imagine if we get it out of our brains and share it with someone else that somehow this will bring peace to our troubled mind.
Here’s the problem. Most of the time, talking to someone does not bring me peace. In fact, many times it only stirs me up and upsets me more- and that sends me to the phone dialing a new number in hopes of seeing if talking to someone else will help.
Honestly, I had not really consciously thought about how prevalent this cycle of “solving problems” was present in my life.
God revealed it to me, and convicted me- and I began to realize that talking to my husband or friend many times was just complaining. I wasn’t seeking advice really- many times there wasn’t anything that I could do except go directly to that person and talk to them…and usually I wasn’t going to do that.
What I needed to do was stop- and pray. Examine the “why.” Why am I so upset? What about this situation troubles me? How can someone else help me “solve it?” And if they can’t maybe what needs to change is my heart- my perspective.
People will hurt us in this life- say inconsiderate and harsh things for no reason- speak without thinking of how their words could hurt. We do it too- our tongues are fire.
8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
It should not be- but it is- and we all feel the pain and hurt of it- and we also inflict that pain upon others. How do we respond when people hurt or disappoint us?
It dawned on me this morning- that “venting” was really me seeking from others reassurance. I wanted them to confirm that what others said about me wasn’t true.
A deeper question- who tells us who we are? Who speaks truth to us?
Do we allow what others say about us to become our identity? Are we filled with anxiety when someone says something hurtful or negative about us- even when it is not true?
When a person has the ability to hurt us deeply- it is, in part, because we have given them that ability. We have placed value on their opinion- and in fact, we may have elevated their opinion of us higher than the truth of who we are in Christ.
“How then can you hope to have inward peace? The heart’s fierce effort to protect itself from every slight, to shield its touchy honor from the bad opinion of friend and enemy, will never let the mind have rest. Continue this fight through the years and the burden will become intolerable. Yet the sons of earth are carrying this burden continually, challenging every word spoken against them, cringing under every criticism, smarting under each fancied slight, tossing sleepless if another is preferred before them.”
A.W. Tozer The Pursuit of God
I remember reading those words not so long ago and thinking- yes, that has been me. Getting all worked up because of a rumor someone is spreading about me, or hurt that someone criticized me in some way (even if they didn’t mean to), feeling inadequate as a Mom, as a wife, as a friend (maybe people would love me more if….).
But Tozer also presents us with the secret of peace- to cease striving in this endless rat race of comparisons.
“The meek man…has accepted God’s estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God has declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is, in the sight of God, more important than angels. In himself, nothing; in God, everything. That is his motto. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring. He rests perfectly content to allow God to place His own values.”
A.W. Tozer The Pursuit of God
Dear friends, let us shirk off the burden of trying to please everyone, of worrying about what other people think of us or whether we are meeting their expectations and seek only to please God.
Embrace the freedom of living in the reality of who you are in Him- that identifies you- and gives you worth. Nothing else.
How do we hold on to how God sees us? When we are constantly criticized at work? Put down and gossiped about? Even when we go above and beyond what is required at our job? When we are innocent and have done nothing to deserve being treated like we are?
We memorize God’s Word. We hold onto it- we pray it, we say it. When we feel alone and unappreciated. When our co-workers are gossiping about us on the other end of the room, we close our eyes or close out the world around us- and let God speak true to combat their lies. Let Him be the voice we hear and listen to.
If we can discipline ourselves to this daily- when others try to speak lies to us- they will fall away unheard- for we are protected by the Armor of God.
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Hear these words as well- hide them in your heart:
John 1:12- I am God’s child- “To all who received Him, He gave the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
Ephesians 2:18- I have access to the Father- “Through Him we both have success by one Spirit to the Father.”
Romans 5:1- I have been justified-”Since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 6:20- I belong to God- “You were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.”
Ephesians 1:7-8- I have redemption- “We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our sin, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us in all wisdom and understanding.”
1 Corinthians 2:16- I possess the mind of Christ- “For who has known the mind of Christ, that he may instruct Him; yet we have the mind of Christ.”
1 John 5:4- I am victorious- “Whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.”
Romans 8:2- I am set free- “The spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
1 John 3:1- I am loved- “Behold what manner of love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is because it did not know Him.”
Dear friends- I pray that the truth of who we are in Christ will resonate so deeply within us- that we will cling to Him so tightly- that no other words will break through that impenetrable Truth.
We are loved eternally- completely- just as we are- through the blood of Jesus Christ and our acceptance of the gift of salvation. Grace abounds- blotting out every sin.
Live in freedom today.