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On a recent trip I found myself stuck in traffic behind a truck carrying liquid Nitrogen. But, what caught my eye was the little yellow sticker on the back. Can you see it? VENTING IS NORMAL.
I understand that practically this sign is letting anyone know that the mist you see coming from the truck is normal and nothing to be alarmed about. The truck isn't about to blow up along with all the traffic around them. It's meant to be informative and encouraging to those who may be alarmed when they see the midst. (Let's just hope they also see the yellow sign.)
But, I immediately thought of all the "venting" I see on social media. And I asked myself while venting on social media has become the norm ..... is it appropriate for a Christ-follower to use social media for venting? We've all been there and done that, but is it right?
I suspect I'm likely to get emails from both sides of this argument and I understand I'm opening myself up to that. I readily admit that I'm speaking from my heart and my perspective. Before you send me a frustrated email, please spend some time in God's word (as I've done since seeing this truck). Find what God says to you. Think and pray through what He says until you're confident He has spoken to you. Then if you feel you need to "vent" on social media, go for it! I'm not one to stop a "Jeremiah" when God has told him or her to deliver a message!
God gave Jeremiah a pretty daunting task that few would have had the courage to obey.
Jeremiah 1:9-10 - "Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth. See today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant."
I tried to imagine this in a FB post and later an edited Twitter post! Maybe it would be something like the following:
"OM_ I know you won't believe this, but God reached right down from heaven & touched my mouth. Total truth ya'll! Told me to do some really rad things - things that are gonna make people mad - really mad! :( :( :( :( :0 :0 :0!!!!! From God's hand to my mouth - just like that! Used words like destroy & overthrow. Then build & plant. What's that about? LOL AFAIK those words don't line up! #BadNews #PeopleGonnaBeMad #ToughestJobEver #UnfriendingFuture
Read Jeremiah 2:35-37 for part of the difficult message he had to pass on to Israel.
Jeremiah was so distraught over the message God gave him to share that he said this "oh, my anguish, my anguish. I writhe in pain. Oh the agony of my heart. My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep quiet" (Jeremiah 4:19). If FB was around, I suspect a post would have been next! Twitter #HeartInAgony #Can'tKeepQuiet #SilenceNotAnOption.
Over and over Jeremiah gave some very serious messages to Israel. If he was speaking today, I think he would use FB or Twitter to get his message out because he wanted to get the message to everyone who needed to hear it. He wanted everyone to hear and to return to the Lord. We can't overlook the fact that as we read through the book of Jeremiah we consistently see two things. First we see the message for repentance before judgement fell. And secondly, we see Jeremiah proclaim that God was Sovereign and would be faithful in regards to His covenant with those who loved him. Jeremiah spoke both truth and hope.
Truth and hope. Do we consider what we're posting to make sure that we're not just venting? Don't we always want to include both truth and hope?
For just a minute consider:
1. Could your social media posts be considered "venting" about something you are frustrated about? If so, are you including any form of slander? Are you seeing yourself as the person with the answer while everyone else is wrong? Are you saying things that you would find hard to say if you were standing face to face with someone, like a person who will read your post?
2. Are you including words of encouragement and answers that bring hope to those reading your posts? Scripture tells us that times of encouragement can quickly be lost so "as long as it is today ......". At the end of your life do you really want to be remembered as a "complainer who was always venting" or do you want to be remembered as an encourager who helped others see good amidst some very difficult times?
3. Do your posts reveal a lack of love for those who are different than you? Do they reveal a lack of love for those who have different political views than you? These are challenging political times in 2017. I think we would all agree on that. But can we just stop the unkind, judgmental posts that give no consideration to the fact that we live in America and men and women have died to give us the right to share our opinions and enjoy and practice freedom. Does it honor those lives when we attack each other? In marriage we learn to communicate despite differences and disputes. Can we not work equally as hard to learn to communicate differently on social media? Share, but do so with love. Look for opportunities to include hope and encouragement.
4. God is in control, whether we like it or not. He gives us what we truly desire in our hearts even when those things are not best for us. This is for us personally and as a nation. When we are dissatisfied, should we not vent to Him? Our Father in Heaven is a loving God who longs to have us draw near to Him with our frustrations and our disappointments. Maybe He is calling you to be a public advocate for political issues! But, if He is, should we not do so in sober humility and not as in venting?
The need to vent is normal for us all. But I believe that Christians should take their venting to the Lord before they post it on social media. Take it to our safe place for encouragement, love, grace and the strength to press on in a very confusing and complicated world! He'll tell us just what to say face to face and in a post.
Have something you need or want to vent about? Please think first! Take it to the Lord! Here are some Scriptures that may help.
He is the one who hears prayer - Ps. 65:2, Ps. 66:18-19, Ps. 116:2
He is a refuge for the oppressed - Ps. 9:9
He is a refuge for the poor - Ps. 14:6
He instructs and guides - Ps. 25:8-9, Ps. 71:17
He gives strength to his people - Ps. 29:11
He puts a new song in our mouth - Ps. 40:3
He is an ever present help - Ps. 46:1, Ps. 116:9-11
He gives wisdom - Ps. 51:6, Pro. 2:6
He daily bears our burdens - Ps. 68:19
His understanding has no limit - Ps. 147:5
He is the Spirit of Truth - John 14:15
He is the Father who sees in secret - Matthew 6:6
In some supernatural way, venting to the Lord helps us reform our thoughts and words so that our posts have more impact and influence than they do when we just put it all out there.
IS VENTING NORMAL FOR YOU?