My dilemma

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Two people have hurt me badly in the last few weeks. In both cases, after some thought, I was honest with those involved, expressing my response as lovingly as I could. However, they both reacted with anger and blame. Sadly, offering to meet for reconciliation has brought no response.

Since then, I repeatedly go over all that happened, which generates a constant, painful, and exhausting sense of dread.

The crux of my anxiety is that when someone hurts me, I don’t know whether I should speak out, or say nothing. Each approach has different consequences.

What did Jesus say and do?

As always, I look for guidance in Jesus’ teaching and example. However, he taught, and displayed, both outspoken and silent ways of responding to hurt and injustice, which I find confusing.

Until his arrest, Jesus always spoke the truth in love when people criticised or insulted him. He was, in fact, very direct. His honesty made him a lot of enemies, and contributed to his death.

After his arrest, Jesus said very little, no matter what he was accused of, and how he was treated. This puzzled his captors, perhaps antagonising them even more.

Over the years, I’ve tried both approaches. What happens when I follow Christ’s example in these two, very different, ways?

A. Speaking out

When I “speak the truth in love”, it almost always backfires. The person I’ve been honest with turns on me, angrily blaming me for what I said, even though it was their own hurtful behaviour towards me that I spoke about. I then react to their hostility with my characteristic chronic dread.

B. Saying nothing

When I say nothing, I simply allow the other person to hurt me, absorbing the pain and damage, just as I did with my emotionally abusive mother. Without feedback, of course, there is a risk that they may continue to damage me. This makes me feel helpless and powerless, worsening my chronic depression.

Either way, I can easily end up feeling as if life is not worth living.


Fortunately, Jesus is absolutely clear that whether we speak out or say nothing, we should always forgive those who hurt us. This applies even if they never recognise what they have done, and never say they are sorry.


When people hurt me, I ruminate endlessly about how I responded, and what went wrong. Whether I speak out or say nothing, the outcome is equally damaging for my mental health.

Worse still, I also feel guilty for having “caused” the other person to strike back angrily at me, and to hate me from then onwards.

So, when someone hurts me, should I speak out, or say nothing? I still don’t know the answer to this question, which has plagued me all my life. All I can do is to pray for those who hurt me, asking God to guide and heal us all.

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Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me (Psalm 41:9; NLT).

What did Jesus say and do?

Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21; NIV).

You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? (Matthew 23:33; NIV).

The leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise (Mark 15:3-5; NLT).

If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God (Matthew 5:23-4; NLT).

A. Speaking out

Speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them (Luke 17:3-4; NIV.

The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me (Job 30:27; NIV).

B. Saying nothing

He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth (Isaiah 53:7; NLT).

You have taken away my companions and my loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend (Psalm 88:18; NLT).

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me (Psalm 42:7;NIV).

Why wasn’t I buried like a stillborn child, like a baby who never lives to see the light? (Job 3:16; NLT).


When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there [and] Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:33-4; NIV).

When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins (Mark 11:25; NLT).


Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you (Luke 6:27-8; NLT)

The Lord of Hosts […] is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance (Isaiah 28:29; NKJV).

He will heal us (Hosea 6:1; NLT).

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4 thoughts on “My dilemma

  • This is a very honest and challenging post Ruth. Some folk may run away rather than face it, which is sad because it deals with an inportant issue that we all face at some time. I commend your bravery of being so open Ruth.
    Personally I tend towards being proactive but not aggressive with hurtfulness. As individuals we are all responsible for what we say and do before God, that is my beginning point. If someone attacks me it is their choice but it is their responsibility before Almighty God. In most cases I would answer the attacker, but keep it short and loving. On occasion when attacks continue then it is time to practice silence and distance, with forgiveness and prayer. In this process it is important remember that the attack was the attacker’s choice, thus it is not your fault. Intermediaries are biblical and useful, but in my view the best intermediary is the Almighty Himself. My dear sister I pray that our Father God will guide you in this and also give you peace in Him.

    • Oh Alan, thank you so much for taking the time to think about what I wrote, and to reply with so much care. This issue is one I’ve wrestled with all my life, and you are the only person who has ever been ready to discuss it from a Christian point of view. May God bless you for all your help. I need to go through everything you wrote, and think about it, but my immediate response is to welcome your approach with both hands. Your way of speaking out honestly and lovingly, as briefly as possible, then practicing silence and distance, sounds like a really helpful and practical way forward that I can work on. I’m seeing my psychotherapist tomorrow afternoon: please may I share what you wrote with her? My thanks to you, and may God bless you richly today for reaching out to help. Do let me know how you are, won’t you?
      With love from Ruth XXXX

      • Good day Ruth, as always anything I write belongs to God therefore feel free to use my comment. You are very welcome my sister and you are in my prayers.
        I have been discharged from home visits from the nurses, this morning I will be having the first of many visits to my Doctor’s practice for further treatment. My dressings are being done every second day now which is a step forward due to the fact the wound is dry now. I keep trying to push the boundaries of activity further each day, sometimes resulting in some pain. It is all a process of patience and trusting God.

      • Hi, Alan, I’m delighted that you have taken another step forward by going to the surgery for help now, rather than having the nurses visiting you at home. It’s good that your wound is dry now, too. What an immense cross in it is for you to have to live with this wound, and to have to take such exacting care of your body. I’m sure that your light shines on all the people this wound brings you into contact with.
        Thank you so much for your permission to use some of your words. That’s very kind xxxx

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