My dilemma

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Introduction

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.


Forgiveness

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.


Conclusion

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.

Image: Himsan, Pixabay


References

Introduction

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).


Forgiveness

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).


Conclusion

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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In my heart

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Whatever is in your heart determines what you say
(Matthew 12:34; NLT).

1. Whatever’s in my heart, Lord God,
Determines what I say.

2. When I’m feeling crabby
I speak bitterly all day.

3. When I’m feeling angry
I abuse those I address,

4. When I’m feeling gloomy
I make others feel depressed.

5. When I’m feeling troubled
I ignore my neighbour’s pain,

6. And when I’m feeling needy
People ask for help in vain.

7. Instead, I dump my feelings
On to them, before they flee,

8. While, lost in my self-pity,
I cry: “Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!”


If any of you wants to be my follower,
you must turn from your selfish ways,
take up your cross daily, and follow me
(Luke 9:23; NLT).

A letter (with thanks to M.R.)

Image: Ulrike Mai, Pixabay

Trigger alert
Today’s blog is about emotional abuse, and its consequences.

Introduction
The following quotation sets the scene, though its relevance might not be clear until you have read the whole article:

Turn your steps towards these everlasting ruins, all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary. Your foes roared in the places where you met with us; they set up their standards as signs. They behaved like men wielding axes to cut through a thicket of trees. They smashed all the carved panelling with their axes and hatchets. They burned your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of your Name. They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!” They burned every place where God was worshipped in the land (Psalm 74:3-8; NIV).

An open letter to my mother
Mother, despite claiming to love me, you established control over me from my early childhood onwards. You did this through scorn, criticism, bullying, condemnation, rage, and bouts of violent destructiveness. These behaviours made me fear you deeply. I lived in dread of your next outburst.

You continued to maintain control over me during my teenage years and adulthood, too, using intrusion, disapproval, and anger when I dared to express personal feelings, thoughts or beliefs you didn’t like. Similarly, you reacted with fury and threats of coercion if I tried to make my own decisions about what I wanted to do with my life. When I made mistakes, or got things wrong, you never forgave me, or forgot it. All this made me dread seeing you and spending time with you. I particularly hated the sound of your voice, and loathed you touching me, but was afraid to stand up to you, or to say “no”.

Your ways of controlling me have had severe, pervasive, long-term consequences for my mental health, in the form of low self-esteem, anxiety, dread, panic attacks and agoraphobia. I have also had to cope with a constant sense of not wanting to be alive, with chronic depression, and with episodes of acute depression. Furthermore, one question has always preyed on my mind:

How could you say you loved me, yet behave as you did towards me?

It didn’t make sense. I just couldn’t square what you said with what I experienced.

Then, on the 24th of May, 2020, a friend sent me a message she had seen on a Facebook site about domestic abuse. It read:

It’s not CONSENT if you make me afraid to say no.

I stared at these words, instantly electrified by their brevity, clarity and profound truth. Within seconds, a personal variation flashed into my mind:

It’s not LOVE if you make me afraid to say no.

Deeply stirred by this insight, further phrases began tumbling out of my unconscious mind. Here are just a few examples:

It’s not love if you make me afraid to disagree.

It’s not love if you criticise me all the time.

It’s not love if you make me afraid to be myself.

It’s not love if you make me afraid to choose for myself.

It’s not love if you belittle my achievements.

It’s not love if you only approve of me when I behave like you.

At last, in my late sixties, my friend’s message had given me the answer to my question: your behaviour towards me shows clearly that you did not, in fact, love me in any meaningful way at all.

This shocking realisation made me consider what kinds of behaviour do, in fact, reflect and express genuine love. Here are the best answers I’ve found so far:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, or boastful, or proud, or rude. It does not demand its own way (1 Corinthians 13:4-5; NLT).

It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5; NIV).

I know that none of us is perfect, mother, but when I confronted you, you could at least have admitted what you did to me, and said you were sorry. Over the years, I managed to raise the subject of your behaviour with you several times, always at huge personal cost. However, you never responded with genuine understanding or honesty, instead always trying to justify, minimise, or deny what you had done.

For many years now, I have worked hard to forgive you. Sometimes I even think I’ve succeeded. Fortunately, God understands and accepts the intense anger and bitterness that can still occasionally emerge from my mind, heart and soul. Slowly, gently, he gives me the insights I need in order to be healed, for which I am profoundly thankful.

Ruth.


References

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other (Romans 12:9; NLT).

Do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them (Ephesians 6:4; NLT).

I am the Lord, who heals you (Exodus 15:27; NIV).

Wake from the nightmare

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Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows
(John 16:33; NLT).

1. Let’s wake from the the nightmare
Of childhood,
And think of the mountains
We’ve crossed.

2. Let’s cast off the hell
Of our parents,
And rise above all
We have lost.

3. Let’s wake in the light
Of God’s kingdom
To think of his Son,
And forgive.

4. Let’s cast off depression
And darkness,
And rise in his strength –
Then we’ll live!

Image: nonmisvegliate, Pixabay

References

1. Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you (Ephesians 5:14; NIV).

The gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult (Matthew 7:14; NLT).

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me (Psalm 23:4; NLT).

2. Banish anxiety from you heart and and cast off the troubles of your body (Ecclesiastes 11:10; NIV).

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised (Job 1:21; NIV).

3. [Give] joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:12; NIV).

If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you (Matthew 6:14; NIV).

4. Those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired (Isaiah 40:31; NET).

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10; NLT).

Without God

Photo: jplenio

You lived in this world without God and without hope
(Ephesians 2:12; NLT).

1. Father,
When we shut you out
We make life so depressing;

2. Jesus,
When we cast you off
The years are hard to bear;

3. Spirit,
When we block your love
We make our lives so empty –

4. Yet all we need to say is:
Lord, have mercy,
For you care.

References

1. The godless are barren (Job 15:34; NLT).

I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so meaningless (Ecclesiastes 2:17; NLT).

2. In those days you were living apart from Christ […] You lived in this world without God and without hope (Ephesians 2:12; NLT).

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

3. People who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it (1 Corinthians 2:14; NLT).

God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors (1 Peter 1:18; NLT).

4. God have mercy on me, a sinner (Luke 18:13; NIV).

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you (1 Peter 5:7; NLT).

Thank you for my life

Thank you for my life, Lord,
My exile here on earth,
For all I have experienced
And learned.

Thank you for my wounds, Lord,
My healing at your hands;
For all the care I’ve welcomed
And returned.

Thank you for my darkness, Lord,
My losses, and my grief;
For all the times I’ve laid awake
At night.

Thank you for my sins, Lord,
My sorrow and my shame;
For all the ways I’ve tried
To put things right.

Thank you for your gifts, Lord,
Your blessings, and your joy;
For all the fears
I’ve worked to overthrow.

Thank you for my home, Lord,
My kindred, food, and drink;
For all the ways I’ve had to change
And grow.

Thank you for your teaching, Lord,
Your pattern, faith and hope;
For all the sickness
I have had to face.

Thank you for your crown, Lord,
Your forgiveness, and your love;
My birth, life, death, and, most of all,
Your grace.

References 

When I bring you home from exile, you will be like a pleasing sacrifice to me (Ezekiel 20:41; NLT).

Though he wounds, he also bandages. He strikes, but his hands also heal (Job 5:18; NLT).

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33; NLT).

If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-4; NIV).

Be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).

He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies (Psalm 103:2-4; NLT).

God saved you by his grace when you believed (Ephesians 2:8; NLT).

I am content

 

Lord,
I am content
With what you send.

Health and illness
Both flow from your hand;

Poverty and plenty
From above –

You know what I need,
For you are love.

 

Lord,
I am content
With what you give.

Joy and grief
Are lessons I must live;

Disaster, healing touch,
Smooth path, or rough –

You know what I need,
And that’s enough.

 

Lord,
I am content
With what you grant.

May I learn to face
What you command;

For you, Lord, suffer with me,
Like your Son,

And you know what I need –
Your will be done.

 

References

Be it unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38; KJV).

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11; NIV).

Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal (Job: 5:17; NIV).

Your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him (Matthew 6:8; NLT).

God is love (1 John 4:16; NLT).

Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you (Isaiah 30:20; NLT).

In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases (Isaiah 53:4; NRSV).

Your will be done (Matthew 6:10; NLT).

 

Tests

Hello, everyone. I want to let you all know that I’m in hospital with breathing difficulties, just in case there is some disruption to my daily posts. I was admitted on Monday, and am currently waiting to have a scan and, hopefully, a diagnosis. Love to you all, from Ruth XXXXX

 

 

Lord,

Whether my tests are great or small,
May I help those who stumble.

Whether my pain is strong or weak,
May I help others through.

Whether my tears fall fast or slow,
May I help those who suffer.

Whether my life is long or short,
May I, like Christ, serve you.

 

References

The Lord tests the heart (Proverbs 17:3; NLT).

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33; NLT).

Mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15; NRSV).

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40; NIV).

Mary

 

Lord, 

My mother didn’t mean
To hurt me –
She simply had a child,
Then didn’t cope.

She didn’t have the qualities 
I needed,
So I grew up with her,
But without hope. 

She managed me
By trying to control me
With condemnation, fury,  
Screaming, blame.        

She damaged me 
By pouring out resentment;
I ended up with trauma, 
Fear, and shame. 

But now you give me Mary
For my mother –
The finest woman
Who will ever live; 

So every day I thank you 
For Our Lady, 
Who prays that we will heal, 
Love, and forgive. 

 

References

When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home (John 19:26-7; NLT). 

They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus (Acts 1:14; NLT). 

From now on all generations will call me blessed (Luke 1:48; NLT).

8.11.13.

Hello, my name is Ruth, and I’m a Christian, Catholic, Celtic writer. I live with chronic fatigue, invasive breast cancer, neuropathic pain, and various other medical conditions. I also have extensive experience of panic, agoraphobia, depression and anxiety, both personally and professionally. Whilst I’m praying I often have insights, which I try to express in writing. Then I share them with others via my website, twitter and Facebook.

I publish a short, original blog each day, praying for all those who read it, as well as for all those who do not. I very much hope you will find something on my site that interests or helps you, and I welcome feedback and correspondence.

With best wishes, from Ruth xxxx

http://www.ruthkirk.org