Welcome to my blog! And a special welcome to you if you’re visiting after reading my guest post on Renee Fisher’s Devotional Diva. This entry is a companion reader to that post, which Renee wonderfully named, “A Woman Unashamed”.
That post started off by saying that I don’t like writing out of emotions. And I don’t. That didn’t start off as a guest post. It started off as an email. And it was an email because commenting on Renee’s blog seemed too public. It’s ok if you laughed, I find God’s sense of humor very funny, too.
I also believe that God is big enough for our emotions—joy, sorrow, anger, confusion, whatever. And that wrestling with God is really really important. You’re not less of a person for not understanding or not sheepishly accepting things. Needing to wrestle things out with God makes you more of a person, in my opinion. Jacob might also agree.
However, we weren’t designed to be lone rangers either, but for community. So there is a certain healthy level of venting to another human being that we need. I’m still learning what that healthy level is, and while I’ve erred on both sides—silence and vocal—my major tendency is to err on the side of silence. Both sides can be destructive.
Here’s a picture of how I see that venting works: If you’re an introvert like me, you process your ideas, emotions, frustrations, problems in your head. When I’m doing that, sometimes I reach a point where churning the ideas and thoughts over and over ceases to produce anything new or useful. It’s just the same ideas/emotions rehashed, bouncing around inside my head. They bounce off each other, picking up speed and energy, and soon it’s like a nightmarish game of junior high dodge ball, where you’re stuck in the middle and everyone’s target. Even if I know what’s True, I can’t hear it because I’m getting pelted by spiky balls of frustrated (often negative) thoughts.
When I finally get around to venting (why I take so long is a completely different matter for another day), speaking the thoughts ricocheting around the inside of my head releases them. They come out, and in the process, I both actually hear what I’ve been thinking, and make room for me to hear the truth. Once all the thoughts are out, there is now space for me to really listen.
The key element of venting is having another person hear you—really hear your heart. Journaling, or driving around yelling in your car, while they certainly have their place, don’t quite work the same way. When you journal or talk to yourself, you’re still keeping your thoughts. When talking with another human being, you’re giving them a piece of yourself. Giving your thoughts to another forces you to take your thoughts out of the dark of isolation, and expose them to the light of communion.
Shame can be a self perpetuating thing, because shame wants to hide. And when shame is hidden, it grows. Shame tells you that exposure is the worst thing that could possibly happen. It is—it’s the worst thing that can happen to that thing causing you shame. Exposure, done prayerfully and with wisdom, will go to the root of that shame and bring healing and freedom. And, consequently, be one of the best things that could possibly happen.
I’m still in process. When Renee asked if she could use my email as a post, I thought I must be crazy to agree. But I also knew it was right. I hope you get benefit from a glimpse of my journey, and if you’d like to chat more leave a comment or send me a message.
I recommend checking out Isaiah 54. Go ahead and read the whole chapter, but here are some highlights that I’ve been pondering:
“Enlarge the place of your tent,and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. …Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;do not be confounded, for you will not be disgraced;for you will forget the shame of your youth …For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”says the Lord, who has compassion on you.