Friday, April 4, 2008


A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. Proverbs 29:11

This verse came to my attention 2 months ago and I have been struggling over it ever since. At first, I welcomed the verse as confirmation of the need to have self control, even in our grief. I had read books encouraging me to allow myself to grieve completely, to not hold back any emotion. Such counsel seemed wrong and dangerous - should I really be allowed to give full vent to my emotions. I can see it now, plates flying across the kitchen, smashing against the wall. Or driving my van full speed into a light pole - just because that is what I desired to do at the moment. Giving full vent to my emotions would destroy me and my family.

But as I have been thinking about this verse and examining my life, I realize that instead of venting in extreme manners, I am giving full vent to emotion in more socially acceptable ways. I justify eating the whole bag of chips, drinking too many cherry cokes, and staying up way past midnight. All of them justified because "I have been through so much and I deserve this right now, so just leave me alone and let me have this indulgence." And don't try to get in my way as I am pursuing the full expression of my "grief". Just ask my daughters.

I think I understood this verse to a degree, understanding that there is a time and place and appropriate nature for expressions of emotion and grief. But what I missed is that while the wise man holds it back, it doesn't go away. To take this verse alone as the sole counsel concerning grief, anger, and emotion is as foolish as allowing full vent to your spirit. Step one is to have wisdom in holding back at times, but step two, the step I seem to keep missing, is to go to God instead, allowing Him to receive all that my spirit is bearing.

Matthew 11:28-29 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Psalm 119:28 My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.

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