silence vs speaking up

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Over the past couple years I have had a reoccurring dilema: do I speak my mind when someone wrongs me and [as best as possible] tell them the truth and the way their words or actions affected me, OR do I keep my mouth shut for the most part, giving them unconditional love?

As a people pleaser and a girl trying her best to live like Jesus, I have a habit of looking out for the best of others. I rarely speak my mind if I know if will offend or hurt someone. There are so many times where I would love to spew a bunch of “word stones” at people and hurt them, like they did me. It’d feel so cathartic. It’d help me to get things off my chest. It’d get the truth out there. After all, they should be told so they can learn from their mistakes, right?

But, unfortunately, it’d also hurt that person. And likely make me feel like a moron.

So how do I tell someone how they hurt me while also showing them love and grace?

For so long I just kept my mouth shut. And that caused me an incredible amount of pain – both physically and mentally. So, while I was sparing the heart of another, I was hurting my own. 

I don’t like hurting people. In fact, I really try to avoid it at all costs. I am, however, learning to stick up for myself. Maybe that means that person won’t like me, will be offended by what I say, will feel some pain. But here is how I decide what to say – can I walk away from the conversation with a clean conscious, that what I said was not out of malice or anger, but out of love and truth, hoensty and openness? Do I leave feeling good about my words? Sure, I often feel sad at the end of such a conversation. I am sad that I had to hurt the person and they may never come to realize the truth in what I said. I am sad that I am causing any offense to a friend. My pride is screaming as it realizes that person likely has some negative feelings towards me. But I am free. What is most important is to remember to act out of love. If what you are wanting to say is what you wanted to say the minute that person caused you any offense, you likely shouldn’t have said it. 

Take some time.

Be okay with how you feel.

Consider the other person’s feelings AND your own feelings.

Pray about it. Ask for help and clarity, direction and guidance.

Don’t speak out of hatred.

Don’t walk away feeling like a victor. Walk away knowing you spoke out of truth and honesty, and that it might take a long time, but hopefully that person will understand that one day.

Be an adult. [This is one of the most frustrating things to me – I often try to just be honest and talk about things, but so many “adults” haven’t learned that this can be healthy and good – it often is viewed as only a slam. Pride too often rules in such confrontational situations.]

But, all things considered – sometimes silence really is the best answer to a foolish response, a painful remark, an offended heart. It doesn’t feel good to stay silent, but sometimes that is what we are called to do. Write about it. Don’t talk about it with another person. Pray about it. Don’t lash out at the accuser.

[This post was originally posted on my other blog, Worthy Heart]

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3 thoughts on “silence vs speaking up

  1. Yes! Kara, good call here. I struggle with the same thing. I hate hurting other people – so often am tempted to not saying anything when someone offends me -but I have also learned that it can sometimes be just as hurtful not saying anything at all because the other person doesn’t realize there is anything wrong until I just don’t even want to be around them anymore. So this isn’t fair to them either.
    Learning how to communicate properly is hard, but I think if you and I come across as loving and genuine when we present our side of the story, the other person may not want to hear that “bad news” whatever it is in the moment, but as time passes you can both appreciate that you had the strength to speak your mind.

    • Carol – really good points you made! It isn’t fair to them not to say something, sometimes. It is such a fine line, however. Interestingly enough yesterday @ work I was in a training about having difficult conversations with fellow employees. One thing that I know is true but really stuck out to me is that sometimes people will NOT be receptive. That is when it is really tough. But, I think you are right – at least you both can appreciate the strength it takes to speak up when it’s uncomfortable!

  2. Pingback: Keeping your mouth shut. « makinghealthahabit

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