I’ve been thinking about Duck #10 for a while now: It’s SO easy to give excuses for our actions.
“I over slept.” “I was raised that way.” “I’ve never heard that before.” “I wasn’t taught that in elementary school.” “I’m not from around hear.” “I was just venting.”
The list goes on…
What I really want to focus on, though, is the last excuse, “I was just venting.”
Were you, were you really? Think about it. How often do we ever “just vent?” Rarely ever. I’d even argue to say that it is practically impossible to truly vent about another person. More than that, we’ve skewed the definition of the word vent and warped it to be a green light, get out of jail free ticket to talk about someone else without having to feel bad about it.
Don’t deny it. You do it. I do it too. I do it so frequently that recently, I’ve had to ask for forgiveness from a dear friend of mine because of how I hurt her. I hate admitting that because it makes me sound like a bad friend. And I guess in some regards, I am. I’m imperfect and will thus hurt people I love. And that sucks. I’ve learned recently, though, that trying to justify my ill behavior and make excuses for why I did what I did does’t lessen the hurt, take back what happened, or fix the situation.
But that’s not the point of this blog post. I guess it could be woven in there somewhere, but I really want to attempt to attack the heart of why we justify “venting.”
According to Google [THE most reliable source out there ;)] the two most prominent definitions of vent are
as a noun: an opening that allows air, gas, or liquid to pass out of or into a confined space, or the expression or release of a strong emotion, energy, etc..
Looking at these two definitions, the latter seems to be the one that we latch on to and morph the most–“The expression or release of a strong emotion…” Often times, we find that the best way to release our strong emotions is by talking about whatever is bothering us (in order to make us feel better). True. But does talking about someone else REALLY make us feel better? No. Why? Because when we talk about someone else, rather than the actual situation, we have moved from venting to gossip.
It’s one thing to say, “X happened and Y responded this way & so I feel really angry because I don’t understand what happened. This hurts me,” versus, “X happened. Y is such a $%#* for responding like that. Y always does this. I bet Y is probably going to do Z because that’s so like Y. Ugh! Y is so @^!&.” In the first response, you’re actually talking about how you feel, being honest and vulnerable; whereas, the second response barely mentions how you feel, emits false strength, reveals hidden insecurity, and just antagonizes whoever Y is. And let’s be real…venting never happens “for a minute” or “real quick” it always goes WAY longer than necessary, making the line between venting and gossiping all the more blurred. It also doesn’t help that whoever you’re venting to, 7 times out of 10, eggs you on and thinks that it’s better to nod & agree versus help you realize that you’re probably at fault in the situation too.
“But I just need to talk about it first…” “I know I probably did something, but can you believe what Y did?” “I don’t feel like I need to apologize, I didn’t do anything wrong.” That’s how we respond. We justify our “venting” because we know that we weren’t actually venting, we were gossiping.
So, why do we gossip?
It’s fun. It’s easy. It takes the attention of of us.
And it’s that last phrase that I think is the heart of this issue. Gossiping takes the attention of of us. (But ironically puts a new focus on us that we fail to see): We are selfish creatures who don’t want to be in a negative spotlight. We don’t like to be told we’re wrong. We don’t like to be called out. We don’t like to be told that we hurt someone else by something we did. (It’s probably their fault anyway, right? They’re probably just too sensitive.) Maybe..
BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER.
Why is it so hard for us to realize that it takes two to tango? (Cheesy, I know, but it’s true). You need someone to lead AND someone to follow. Similarly, it takes two to cause dissenion. Someone may say something that makes you angry, but you add to the problem when you talk to everyone else about how you feel except for the person that made you upset.
It’s like we “vent” to another person to get their opinion on Y’s reactions because we don’t want to reflect inwardly and discover a crack or blemish in our own actions. And if we DO end up finding that pain of a pimple on the face of our behavior, we use every type of concealer to coverup and justify our actions.
Because Heaven forbid we show our humanity and reveal our true identities of imperfection!
Because Heaven forbid I show my humanity and reveal my true identity of imperfection…
[Lord, I’m broken. I constantly try to justify my actions. Help me to be reminded that Your death on the cross was THE ULTIMATE justification. Give me the strength to be honest about my imperfections. Thank You so much that Your grace covers all of who I am and that because of that grace I am redeemed, pure, and new.]