One of my roommates gets the news magazine, The Week. I was leafing through it just the other day and discovered a blurb that piqued my interested, listed as the “Health scare of the week”:
Girl talk is depressing
Teen girls often form strong friendships by venting to one another for hours about their social problems, boys, and other anxieties. These “girl talk” sessions are usually presumed to offer comfort and support. But a new study of girl talk has found that discussing problems over and over can actually make them worse. When she studied the venting sessions of 813 preteen and teenage girls, phsychologist Amanda Rose found that the hours-long conversations were reinforcing their feelings, not eliminating them. “The more they talk about it, the more anxious and depressed they feel,” Rose tells the Los Angeles Times. “Too much talk is too much of a good thing.” In fact, by obsessing over normal problems, teens can actually drive themselves into depression, eating disorders, and other self-destructive ways of coping with their anxiety.
So it looks like James knew what he was talking about… “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and is set on fire by hell” (Jas 3:6). We often couch this in kinder language — we’re processing or venting. While there is definitely a place for talking stuff through with one or two advisors when you are genuinely seeking help for dealing with a situation, this is not that. What this article is talking about, and what I wanted to point out, is that often we complain and backbite and whine when we’re faced with personal drama. It feels good at the time, which I can testify to from personal experience, but it only leaves us feeling more drained and stressed out when all is said and done.
Taming the tongue is not easy; James said that no one can do it (3:8). Whoever can successfully keep their tongue in check is said to be “perfect” (3:2). It can be painfully difficult to resist picking up the phone to call that one person who we know will pat us on the back and justify our lousy attitude. Thankfully, we have God the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, and by His help and grace, that pesky tongue can be brought into submission. And you know He will be faithful to give us plenty of opportunities to grow…