Thursday, November 18, 2010

Life Is A Pressure Cooker - Please Vent Safely - Part One

(Note: This is a post from 2010 - little did I know then, how much experience I was about to have with pressure.) 

In our house, when I was growing up, we never had a pressure cooker.  There was some family tale about my grandmother nearly blowing up the house after forgetting she had a chuck roast stewing in one, and there were various accounts of how long it took to scrape the mess off the kitchen ceiling and walls when the thing exploded.  Apparently, she did not have the safety valve working properly.

                                           Uh huh.  Been there, done that - exploded, I mean, when my vents were not working properly.  And when such an explosion took place, it was known to spook birds in the neighborhood for blocks, and frighten small children into tears.  Of course, I exaggerate ..... one hopes.

For some years I worked in the mental health arena, and knowing how to "vent safely" was a key tenet of many of the counseling professionals I knew.  You had to know your "safe places" - that is know when and where and with whom it was okay to let it all hang out.

One of my extended family members is wont to explain her "explosions" as "having a melt down" - which phrase, of course, brings to mind the image of a nuclear fuel rod overheating and melting the faces off half the population in a fifty mile radius.  Not a pretty thought.  She seems to think that the "meltdown" rationalization excuses the pain she causes others during one of her emotional outbursts.

The fact is that most of us have, from time to time, been under so much pressure in life, that we have expressed our reaction to that pressure inappropriately.  We are not proud of ourselves in those moments, and we are often stymied as to how to prevent it recurring.  Again, harkening back to my days in health services, the pros called it "stuffing your feelings into a bag" until the bag can hold no more.  What happens at that point is the person stops stowing away their "stuff" - and starts blowing up.  Stowing and blowing is a self-destructive cycle that some never escape.

So, that brings us back to those "safety vents" or escape valves on the pressure cooker.  They are there for a reason, the safety of the cook and anyone who may be within the vicinity.  Such vents are designed to allow for the measured release of excess pressure in a safe way, and still allow the temperature to remain hot enough to cook the contents of the pot.

God "knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust."  (Psalms 103:14) Or, even more aptly, " ...What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while..." (James 4:14 NIV)   Our Maker understands our weaknesses and knows what makes us well as what makes us explode.

When we remember to turn to Him for safely venting our frustrations, we can avoid those destructive explosions or meltdowns. 

The Psalmist David, whom God called "a man after my own heart" understood this.  We can learn some valuable lessons about how to safely deal with the pressure in our lives, constructively vent our frustration, avoid injuring others through inappropriate explosions, and finally support and comfort those who are struggling through their own pressures by examining some of David's responses to life's pressures.  God has provided the tools for us and He wants us to learn to use them well.  This is God's "good and perfect will" for us. (Romans 12:2.)

But it is a learning process, not an event.  Over the next two or three posts I will delve into some aspects of life's pressure and our God-given safety valves.
                                         & & &
Are you under severe pressure in your life right now?  If so, God knows and understands; but more than this, He is willing to support you through it while you learn to function within the pressure.

Meanwhile, I pray you will have the peace that only comes from God as you deal with your unique life challenges. God bless you....
Marsha Young

For my determined purpose is that I may know Him - that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly.
(Philippians 3:10 - Amplified Version)


  1. Good stuff. I look forward to the upcoming posts.

  2. Life is a pressure cooker, and various incidents/situations tends to turn the heat up. Ironically, I find that the accumulation of a number of small incidents occuring close together will affect me more severely than a big one will. Good post.

  3. Warren, you are so right. It is often that "last straw" that puts us over the edge. I suspect is it because we "gear up" consciously for the big stuff; but the little stuff catches us off guard.