Saturday, February 6, 2016

When You Want to Call a Friend to Vent

I've been thinking about a message that comes up a lot in my world lately - that of being positive and not talking about the things that are going wrong. Pastor John Gray said this best when he claimed that "a lot of our friends WANT us to be broken." I find this to be absolutely true! When I tell my friends that I am doing great, I find it's a conversation-stopper.

Today, I'm going to address this phenomenon from a Biblical and research perspective. Then, next week we will explore alternatives to wallowing in our troubles and instead focusing on what is RIGHT in our lives.

Last year about this time, I read that "Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back" (Psalm 29:11). This brought me up quickly. How many times do I call a sister or friend to vent about what happened last to irritate me? We are told by many people, friends and family for sure, that venting is good. We'll feel good to "get it off our chest." Yet, this verse seems to indicate that we might be way off base with that notion. 

Further, research shows that contrary to popular belief, venting breeds aggression, hostility, and resentment. Ouch. That's a lot of bad outcomes for a simple vent. Certainly that's not the positive outcomes we are promised if we call our friend and vent about our day. 

So, what's a person to do? Well, researchers Cavell and Malcolm recommend beginning by taking some deep breaths. I know, sounds simple. But next time you're angry, see how "simple" it is when all you want to do is call a friend and spew. 

Next, focus on what's good. Second Timothy 3:2 says that people who are lovers of themselves (hhmm...self-centered focus on one's own problems?) are also lacking in gratitude. On the other hand, Hebrews 12:28 tells us that since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken (it's a sure thing - no need to get worried about it or focus on our circumstances), we should show gratitude. So, in your situation, what can you be grateful for?  Perhaps by this time in your situation, you realize you are glad you didn't vent about it to someone! 

So that's our start for today. Venting may not be all it's cracked up to be. Instead, stop, breathe, and be grateful. 

The Bible and researchers do know some great strategies for what we can talk about with our friends that has GREAT effects and builds our relationships - without needing to be broken all the time. But we'll talk about that next time.

Happy Communicating!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


I've done Bible studies for various reasons over the years. I've wanted to learn about God and His Son, I've wanted to learn more about myself, I've wanted to learn how to live in a way that is in alignment with what I believe. While I enjoy simply reading the Bible, a study helps to get me up in the morning with a purpose and gives me something to focus on throughout the day.

Maybe you are a Bible reader - or maybe not.

Either way, I bet there has been at least one day when you wished that life could be simpler. While many of us talk about 'simplicity', we often wear our busyness like a badge of honor. Out of my entire social network, I only have one person who is outspoken about her quiet life. And even she gets overrun by busyness sometimes!

For others, simplicity has to do with "stuff." These people feel simplicity when they clean house, give unused items to the charity of their choice, and declutter. There are lots of great websites to help you do that, if you feel drawn to it.

For me, however, simplicity goes deeper than my schedule or my stuff. It goes to my soul. I long to be someone with a quiet and gentle spirit. Someone that others want to be around because of my calm nature.

This morning I completed a study that helped me to understand just how to attain that kind of simplicity.

Cynthia Heald has written a great study - Becoming a Woman of Simplicity.

In this fantastic, Bible-based study, Cynthia shows us how to draw near to God and away from the elements of our lives that draw us from Him. She gives great tips for how to settle down to attain that quiet spirit. Cynthia balances questions from the Bible, application questions, and text explaining the Bible and her own application.

I am so glad I took the time to do this study. While there are 11 lessons, I took about a month to complete it. I'd work in the mornings, as time allowed. Some days I only had time to answer two questions. But those questions would stay with me throughout my day.

Understanding the concept of quieting my soul and focusing on a gentle nature absolutely impacts my family. My boys begin to see a more calm mother, ready to handle life as it comes. My husband sees a wife who is more eager to spend time with him when he's available, instead of rushing back to my list.

Without a doubt, Becoming a Woman of Simplicity was a great use of my money and time. I am sure it can have impact for you, too.

Have you worked through a great study? We'd love to hear about it in the comments section!

Happy Communicating!