A teenager walked by with “Wait Training” lettered on her sweat shirt. I don’t know what that implied to her, but it applied to something I have been wrestling with most of my life it seems. It has nothing to do with pumping iron.
My problem seems to be gender specific, peculiar to women. We tend to be more emotional and impulsive, more likely to quickly vent our feelings. That’s what gets me into trouble. There are times when I want to complain to someone about what they did that didn’t please me or about neglecting to do something they promised or should be doing. I could whitewash it and call it “righteous indignation.” Would you believe that I have such a negative character trait?
Since I know that I am right—of course—the first thing I’d like to do is to tell them off. But I’m not really a confrontational person, especially not face to face. As a writer, I’d much rather send off a letter. That also gives me a chance to craft my complaint, state my case logically and carefully, point by point. Snail mail is far too slow these days—much better to send an e-mail which is instant and allows me to vent while I’m hot under the collar.
With the ease of e-mail, my habit escalates. Oh, the trouble I’ve gotten into and the embarrassment I’ve suffered time and again by impulsively sending off a missive which in the end turns out to be a deadly missile when it reaches its destination. Webster tells me that a missile is “an object or weapon that is thrown, shot, or otherwise propelled to a target.” A letter I quickly send off in the heat of my emotions, especially before I have all the facts in hand, is more lethal than a hand grenade. It has the potential to mortally wound a friendship or relationship. It is not a “guided missile” if I haven’t taken the time to be guided by the Lord before I send it. I am not advocating simply holding in my emotions; totally suppressing them has pressure cooker dangers.
God has been trying to enroll me in WAIT TRAINING most of my life in respect to this impulsive habit of venting-and-sending too soon either in black and white or with words spoken which are just as damaging or more so than if I wrote them. In Proverbs we read, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” And “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken [by inference, written] in right circumstances.” In the book of James he warns, “The tongue is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men…from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing.”
In the Psalms, David declares, “I will pour out my complaint before God; I declare my trouble before Him.” Ah, now we’re getting to the heart of the matter. VENT is a good four letter word. WAIT is its counterpart.
Through long years of experience in making mistakes in this area of speaking or writing something hastily or rashly, I’ve found what works for me. However, sometimes I still come dangerously near transgressing again. Recently an occasion came up when I came too close for comfort to messing up a precious relationship big time.
I was really miffed. I felt I had every right to complain to someone about an unfair situation that involved me and my feelings. I sat down at my sometimes overly user-friendly computer, and set about venting with the full intent of sending off the e-mail immediately to the person involved. I rapidly wrote two pages of steam. I spell checked, outlined my points, underlined, cap lettered for emphasis, and edited it several times until I was satisfied I had spoken my piece eloquently and presented my case flawlessly. Well, that should put him in his place! Let the chips fall where they may—he deserved every sentence.
I sat back and blew out my breath—Well, here it goes! But somehow I couldn’t click SEND. An unseen but clearly felt hand seemed to restrain me. Perhaps it was my Guardian Angel (he is probably exhausted with his incredibly long and arduous assignment) who was bringing me to my senses. “WAIT!” There was no mistaking the impression.
“Click SAVE instead.” Well, OK, I guess I can send it later, I reluctantly complied.
“That’s not all—pray for him. And pour out your complaint before God.”
Meekly I obeyed. I waited one day, two days. My furnace cooled.
The third day my target person surprised me by e-mailing me all on his own. He warmly and caringly laid out an entirely different scenario for the situation that had precipitated my boiler eruption. I had misunderstood, jumped to conclusions, and read between the lines when there was nothing to read! I came too close to losing a relationship that was precious and holy!
Venting is allowed and needed to relieve my emotional pressure. Writing down my feelings is a good outlet, an escape valve—as long as I don’t send it. Complaining is permitted, if I do it before God. O Lord, don’t give up on me—keep me in your WAIT TRAINING class for as long as I need it. And give my Guardian Angel an extra slice of Angel Food cake for his coffee break at “STARbucks” as a reward for a job well done.