On not voicing dark thoughts, for the sake of others

Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain,
And washed my hands in innocence.
For all day long I have been plagued,
And chastened every morning.

If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
Behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children.
When I thought how to understand this,
It was too painful for me

-Psalm 73:13-16

In Psalm 73, the writer voices his complaint of envy about the rich to God. He goes on to say that IF he would have said these things out loud to his friends and family, he would have been betraying God’s children. It would have been treason. It would have been the sort of terrible thing a real enemy would have done to hurt is loved ones, only it would have been coming from himself, not some outsider.

Moaning and groaning like this is betrayal – it’s sin. It’s probably not sin to voice these concerns to someone strong in the faith – a pastor or mentor or father or mother. For someone strong and over you to some degree, words like this will likely not drag them down into the void. Maybe it’s OK to vent sometimes, but just voicing them haphazardly among your friends? Your words have power. You can drag them down into the pit. They were probably thinking the same thing just earlier that day, but trying to push past it. Now you’ve drug them back. Griping about these things to your wife or husband? Sure they love you and they’ll listen, but they are going to have to put a lot of psychological energy into recognizing this kind of despair and selectively tuning it out. So be careful talking like this. Parents who lean on their kids to hear their woes definitely need to knock it off. They can’t handle that load.

Be careful to discern between this (keeping your mouth shut for the health of others), with stuffing your emotions and pretending like everything is fine when it’s not. The other isn’t healthy either and can be terrible consequences if done long-term. Wisdom is needed.

I’m preaching to myself here, having drug down my wife, children, and friends with what in retrospect were little more than pity parties and bitch fests. At the same time, sometimes, you really NEED someone who will listen to you, even if it’s just to take out the trash. The very fact that someone cares enough to just shut up for 10 minutes can be a good first step to pulling you back up. It seems that it could help if they had a bit of distance from you. Your spouse or best friend might not be the best person as they are more likely to take your dark thoughts a little TOO seriously. Some discernment is required on all sides to prevent this.

The psalmist supplied some key commentary to keep his faith in God front and center. We can do the same. We could also take a break and worship God, even if it seems like we have to grit our teeth at first. It helps to replace the anguish with something else and He is worthy, regardless of how we feel.