Things Someone Who Loved You Should Have Told You

Words can do incredible damage, but they can’t hold a candle to silence.

Often it is those words that have been withheld which leave the greatest scars upon us. It is in that terrible absence that we are dealt the harshest blow by those who claim to love us.

Somewhere along the line you were denied something you needed to live; something destination-altering and hope-giving that you deserved.

At some point on your path, someone should have encouraged you, but refrained.
They should have defended you, but did not.
They should have released you, but chose not to.
They should have said something—instead of nothing.

Someone should have told you that you were beautiful far beneath the surface, so that you didn’t grow up believing that you were defined by your waistline or your hairline or by the scale or by the affection of someone else who may have cared far too little for you.

Someone should have told you that you were more than your worst mistake, so that you weren’t still imprisoned there in the spot of that momentary failure so long after it; still stuck trying to undo something that could never be undone and believing it made you less than.

Someone should have told you that God was not angry with you, so that your faith was allowed safe passage to grow and fearlessly move toward the One who made you and adores you without caveat or condition; the One who delights in you as you are.

Someone should have told you that it wasn’t your fault, so that you were relieved of the wasteful, crushing burden of what you were never meant to carry or deserve to still be saddled with; all the guilt and regret that unfairly declare you culpable.

Someone should have told you that you were a bona-fide, freakin’ miracle; a once in history collection of atoms and color and sound, so that you never doubted for a second your inherent worth, and the beautiful mark you’ve made in the places where your feet have landed.

Someone should have told you that you were forgiven, so that you didn’t cling to a vicious grudge against yourself which pronounced you dirty; so you were not tried for the same crime again and again in the court of your own head.

Someone should have told you that your sadness wasn’t a sickness, so you could have allowed yourself to grieve fully; to feel and speak the depth and breadth of your pain, instead of daily burying it beneath a brittle facade of okayness and pretending you weren’t devastated.

Someone should have told you that your best was good enough; that the honest desires of your heart and the diligent work of your hands regardless of the results, made your efforts successful. If they had told you, you may not have felt failure in anything less than perfection.

Someone should have told you that you were not what people said you wereThat might have emancipated you from the expectations of a million voices judging you from a distance, which you believed as gospel. You might have found your identity independent of the shouts from the crowd or the cutting words of the critics.

Someone should have told you that you were loved as you were; not because of anything you did or won or achieved or made, but simply because you were lovable. It may have saved you from so restlessly striving to earn what you already deserved.

I can’t undo the brutal omissions you endured in the past, or the time you’ve squandered or the peace you’ve surrendered as a result.

I can only give you these words now, as a firm and steady spot to plant your foot and pivot as you begin again down another road, one with far fewer demons hiding in the shadows to ambush you.

So stop to listen to the whisper in your ear, that breaks the long and heavy silence and says that you are free. Feel the lightness that only love brings.

Somewhere along the road someone close to you should have told you all this, but they didn’t.

So I am telling you.

Be encouraged.

76 thoughts on “Things Someone Who Loved You Should Have Told You

    • Silence is deafening. I know I am not alone in experiencing it both as a teen and again as an adult. It is heartbreaking the things that we aallow ourselves to endurre. Thanks John for breaking the silence.

  1. Yes and yes again.
    Silence is deafening. Past and present.

    Thanks for the post John and I’ll forgive you for making me cry at work. ♡

  2. John, you are so beautiful inside and out! I wish I knew you personally. Thank you for posting such incredibly encouraging words. I am thirsty for them and drink them greedily. Bless you!

  3. This is why I believe, ultimately, we’re on the same side.

    THIS is the message that all of the marginalized, all of the excluded, all of the unwanted, all those who think that they aren’t a part of the human race, all those who think their superficial mental illnesses like my own autism make them less- this is what they need to hear.

    NOT that it is ok. NOT that sin isn’t sin. But that we all have value beyond our sins, value beyond measure. And that we have a God who, while being perfectly just- is also perfectly merciful.

    Hell is real- and is always a potential choice. But so is the sacrament of reconciliation, the process of purgatory- by which, through repentance, or even the intent to repent expressed, we are forgiven, and our destination is Heaven, not Hell.

    And you don’t need to die to get into either state.

    • Theodore, I usually find myself with completely opposing views to yours on most issues and I could probably pick apart this post as well, but I won’t. It’s clear from this post that you’ve suffered your own wounds in life and it is neither my place nor desire to add to your burdens. You said, “…we are forgiven, and our destination is Heaven, not Hell. And you don’t need to die to get into either state.” We are in full agreement here and it is my wish that your experience today more closely resembles Heaven than Hell. Peace to you and yours this day.

      • Print this out and tape to your desk so that every time you are inclined to “pick apart” this or any other post , you first stop and ask yourself , “WHY does this person need to hear my argument? HOW will my words make them a better person? Am I making the world a better place with my efforts? “

    • Ted thank you for trying, in your own way, to shine a little light on hope in the face of sin. Some think that we must teach heaven and hell together equally. I am not so sure it benefits people who are marginalized and discouraged. Although there was a time in my life when the fear of damnation was the only thing that kept me going- which is kind of weird to remember- but it was a very dark time of desperation that never got me anywhere. It was a vicious cycle of repentance and forgiveness that never ended. That is what the some ‘organized churches’ teach. I think the work of Jesus was to take away the sin of the world. To free us up to give all our attention to God and all our efforts to do good unto others. To care for everyone equally- to encourage everyone equally. There is equality in grace and no room for condemnation. There is enough evidence of hell around us which beats us down and paralyses us. I am glad you see that as well. How we give people hope and help them up varies from person to person. So while I may not know what I believe about the message of hell vs heaven perhaps there is a place of separation and perhaps God wants to redeem us all. In my mind it is a mystery so I choose to place more emphasis on love rather than teach something which may not be 100% truth. Jesus is the truth, the faithful one, the Saviour, the Way, the Good Shepherd. Ted I realized today you are doing the best you can. So I hope you are encouraged and feel loved today.

      • Well spoken Kathy, in your light of relationship with Him. Its my feeling I can’t give a parched someone a saving drink in a colander. And as John’s post points to… people need to hear the manner and sweetness of Jesus. He’ll surely point to the places of separation, in each child, that standin the way abundant living.

    • Well said, Theodore. Now remember your pain and suffering and your redemption through Christ Jesus, and share that unconditional love with others. Share it with the absolute worst of the worst, because they are the ones who need it the most.

  4. I am on the board of directors of an organization that serves homeless LGBTQ youth in Atlanta, GA (Lost n Found Youth, Inc.).

    While I really enjoy your work, this one hit particularly close to the mission we have with these youth.

    Is this available in, for lack of a better term, poster format?

    If not, can we create something similar to a poster using it in our waiting area? Of course we would identify the source.



    Bruce Garner

    “When fascism comes to the United States, it will come carrying a cross, wrapped in a flag.” (“It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis in 1935)

    “Since when do you have to agree with people just to defend them from injustice?” Lillian Hellman, Writer (1905-1984)

    “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth..” John 16: 12-13a

    “Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” – Thomas Jefferson, A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (1779)

  5. This is powerful; a testimony to the effect of words spoken and unspoken …Once, when I started out as a DBA database administrator, I was working on a production IMS database (hierarchical databases such as IMS retrieve data based on position; relational databases such as Oracle and SQL Server retrieve data based on relationships). I conpletely hosed the database and had to call my boss, who came in and fixed the issue. Expecting to be chewed out and fired, I was amazed when he quietly turned yo me and said, “Did you learn anything?” I said Yes, and he said, “That’s all I need to know” — and he never said another word about it (this was a database supporting logistics for the B2 Stealth).

    I would have crawled over glass for that man…he always supported and defended his staff – he would correct you in private, if necessary, but he would not allow anyone to get on the case in public of anyone that reported to him – I never made the same mistake again, and I’ve never forgotten it. His words – what he said, could have said, made a major impact upon me

  6. I was blessed to have parents who, though imperfect because human, did let me know that I was loved unconditionally. The greatest blessing that came from that is that I can love that way too. I’ve made mistakes, and beat myself up for them for years, but now I know that if I am to be of use to others, I need to let the past go and focus on how I can be of service today. And although I don’t like everyone I know, I can love them as I have been loved, as I believe God loves us all.

  7. Wow! I’m going to keep this and read it often! The next relationship I am in, I will remember to share these! Thank you! Could your insights get any better?!! I don’t think so….then you post something like this! Wow!

  8. It took me more than 10 minutes to be able to type through the tears that were released after reading these words. Some of those tears are 50 years old or more. Others are are freshly born out of joy and gratitude that these words are here, printed on a screen for wounded souls to read. It took me years to learn these truths and I still struggle on some days to believe they apply to me just as much as to my neighbors and friends. I don’t know their hearts and motives and so it’s easy to not judge. But I know my own faults and failures all too well and it is hard to accept for myself the mercy I so freely can offer others. Yet, as my therapist so wisely pointed out, the Great Commandment is to love others as we love ourselves. If I hate myself, how can I love others at all? So today I will strive to love myself so that I can honestly love others, as we were commanded.
    Thank you John, for the timely reminder.

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  10. John, God has truly given you a gift to see into people’s hearts, see where they are hurting, and compose the words to help bring healing. I felt like my heart had been developing a hard shell, laying heavy in my chest and numbing me to my emotions. When I read your post this morning, it felt like that shell broke open and the emotions came pouring out, first with tears, then with the heaviness lifting and a renewed sense of hope. Thank you, thank you, thank you. What you are doing is SO important. God bless you.

  11. Knowing how this all works, I want to say here, John, that your immense talent as a contemporary prophetic voice for our Lord really IS bringing His Kingdom closer to earth than it would ever be without you. You have actually moved it forward with Jesus ! !!!!!! Let’s celebrate that work of Christ in and through YOU!

  12. So lovely, John! I have led a life full of abuse and emotional neglect. These words of yours have been like water on the desert of my soul! May God bless you!!! Thank you!!!

  13. Some truths. And vows I need to remind myself of daily… because I love the me that Jesus saved and recreated.
    I refuse be be reduced to a Like or Reply button.
    I will not tolerate secrecy, darkness, or lack of authenticity.
    I will not tolerate lip-service commitments by others… Not regarding injustices I’ve personally fought for.
    I will remember and act on His calling on my life. I will not make comparisons regarding effort, intelligence, devotion, or significance.
    I will not tolerate silence.
    I cannot tolerate self-centeredness, arrogance, the pride of life… especially not mine. Or others… it’s infectious.
    I will not give in to the anonymity of cyberspace; my abhorrence of it’s darknesses, twisted truths, and double lives. Or actors… no matter who they are.
    I will not forfeit real, personal relationships due to fear. Others deserve my best.
    I will remember I am worth something… because He says so.
    Regardless of what I’ve thought, what I’ve felt, believed I could change, tolerate or overlook… right is right. There is truth out there. I will not let the everyday or extraordinary hurts lessen His truth, His Spirit, His love in my life. And I will pray. Pray. And pray some more.

  14. “Someone should have told you that God was not angry with you, so that your faith was allowed safe passage to grow and fearlessly move toward the One who made you and adores you without caveat or condition; the One who delights in you as you are.”

    THIS !!!
    INSINUATES the feel good Christianity of the time !!!
    God loves everyone no matter what!
    I’m sorry but his word over and over again shows that is just not true!
    He said if you are his child and disobey you are his slave but if you obey you are his friend.
    You reap what you sow unless through your prayers and change of behavior garner his favor.
    THIS IS REALLY A CROCK, and you will pay a price when you die for lying about God’s word.
    Show me ANYWHERE in the word of God where he delights in you when you do evil !!!!
    It is simply not there.

  15. Jesus NEVER preached unconditional forgiveness either.
    Only when you ask and repent of your sin does he forgive you.

    Too many people have too much pride and want God to forgive them without AN EFFORT of ANY KIND on their part. They want to keep doing what they are doing and be forgiven and it just isn’t true.
    Jesus paid for our sin with his death on the cross but NOT without condition !!!!!!

    • It does feel good to be free from condemnation. God pities us when we sin. He wants to show mercy and redeem us. He longs for us to know Him and learn from Him. His arms are open and He is approachable. In Acts 3:19 it says “Repent and be converted” those words don’t accurately convey what is being said. But if you look at the original Greek it means change your mind and turn around. Sounds pretty simple to me. Changing your mind, means realizing you are wrong, turning around means you are going in the wrong direction. Jesus wants us to face Him and follow His way, His path, His example. Part of following Him is doing good unto others, helping them with their needs, seeking peace for example. He is the Rabbi and Teacher that is how He lived among us while on earth. To represent Jesus fairly we have to understand that God is love.

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  17. As I read this, I hear it spoken aloud as performance art on TED or some other public venue…passionately and powerfully. Consider having someone do so and recording it for distribution. Regardless, thank you for sharing it with us here..

  18. Thank you so much for this. I got it on twitter and have passed it on…there are so many people who should really hear this. It sure was good for me! I havee read it often since seeing it and will be referring back to it even more. Thank you.

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  23. I’m forwarding this to many people who, I know, specifically need it right now. After I’ve covered them, I’ll share it on Facebook for everyone. Just wow, John. Another home run. Thank you.

  24. OMG OMG OMG… “Words can do incredible damage, but they can’t hold a candle to silence.” WORDS, words to live by… tape ’em up EVERYWHERE… repeat them daily… sing them to the children… this is nothing short of BRILLIANT and I thank you from the bottom of my bruises – you may just have ripped open the wound once and for all – perhaps I can wash it out good with your words – SOMEONE SHOULD HAVE, you’re damn right they should have! Thanks for letting ’em rip right here, right now. Outta the ballpark! Thank you for being a channel. Thank you for carrying the message. Thank you for noticing the wider brokenness of our world and showing us the way home.

  25. Such a beautiful article! It is interesting that the very first lie told to the very first humans caused them to doubt God’s good intention toward them. They walked closely with God and were created in His image (which is what I hear your heart saying), but somewhere along the way they believed they weren’t like God already, and needed to DO something in order to be like Him. Sadly religion perpetrates this lie, and so does our culture. Facing the lie for what it is is a step toward seeing ourself as valuable and amazing in God’s eyes. We are because He is!

  26. John’s words always enlighten me and help me to see the difference between a scripted religious belief system driven by human intellect and knowledge, and, faith. One is the human manipulation and control of Bible variables, the other, is surrendering to God’s infinite unconditional love. One is a Earth-bound, the other, Heaven-bound.

  27. I love this so much! It makes me think of the scripture that says “life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Our words can actually give life! Think about that. 🙂

  28. My mom died over a year and a half ago. We were each others strength when my dad died 34 years ago. Thank you for so accurately describing the pain of the loss of someone who is woven into the fabric of your life. Thank you too, for reminding me that I am not alone in my emptiness.

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  31. Wonderful ….. And you know you’ve both gotten wisdom and maturity when u can realize and forgive those who ” maybe should have ”
    Said some of those things .. Some parents were so damaged and traumatized themselves by life that they “WERENT able ” to say those things … So we have to realize them ourselves …. My very best …. Marc Shuldiner, MDFACP

  32. God Bless You John,

    Someone should have told you that you were more than your worst mistake, so that you weren’t still imprisoned there in the spot of that momentary failure so long after it; still stuck trying to undo something that could never be undone and believing it made you less than.

    I have felt like this for far to many years now. I am crying as I type now. I keep asking myself if I am only as good as the worst thing I have ever done? It is how I’ve been treated by many. I will share Things Someone Who Loved You Should Have Told You. It is beautiful written and very powerful. It can help so many that suffer needlessly.

    God bless you, Linda

  33. Thank you for these beautiful, healing words which feel just like aloe vera on a fresh burn. Because I lacked those words most of my life, I now try to be the person that speaks those words into the lives of my students, my family and my friends. I’m saving this post to remind me that every day I can be that person for someone else.

  34. Thank you, John. You have no idea how much I needed this right this very moment. I call when this happens a God Moment; thank you for giving me a God Moment.

  35. This reduced me to tears.

    I am 65 years old. I had an amazing career as a teacher, and I raised two great kids of my own. I received a great deal of support as a teacher, but at home? No. I never, ever seemed to live up to my mother’s or my husband’s expectations. (I cannot tell you how much I detest that word.)

    Well, she’s dead, and he is now my EX-husband.

    Funny that my tutoring and subbing services are in much demand, “Can you sub for me again next week? My students love you!”

    I always knew it, but it would have been nice if those who were closest to me had ever given me some respect.

    No matter now. I may be old, but I rock!

  36. I read this to my church small group last night and everyone thanked me for sharing – and we pass our thanks on to you!

  37. This is beautiful. I want to add something, though, to your understanding. In most cases, it’s not a “brutal omission.” It’s not intentional or malicious. Often, parents don’t know this themselves, and so they can’t pass it on. At nearly 60, I’m just beginning to grasp these truths, not yet at the place where I can teach them to others. At 25, I had no clue about these things. I tried very hard to be a loving mother, to be fully accepting of my children … but what you talk about here was far beyond anything I could have imagined, much less pass on to my children. Just want you to know that the omissions aren’t necessarily intentional. In most cases, they aren’t. Thank you, though, for passing on what you DO know. It’s beautiful and it means a lot.

  38. You probably don’t realize this, and please understand that I’m not saying this in a condemning way, but to point out something I hope you will appreciate having pointed out, because you want to grow in this grace and love and acceptance you talk about. You don’t exactly show grace by suggesting that people who did their best to love and raise their children didn’t tell them these things. You say they “withheld” them, etc. You use the word brutal, as if it were intentional abuse. You sound as if these parents, etc, ARE the sum total of their worst mistake, and that their best was DEFINITELY not enough. It’s very condemning … and it doesn’t seem like that’s the kind of person you want to be. I’m thinking that, in your pain of not receiving what you needed, you don’t realize that you’re dishing out, too. And if this is your worst mistake, please know that you are better than that, and your best IS good enough. You are a good person. I see your love and desire for grace shining through … and that’s why I want to share this thought with you.

  39. I feel like in the end we’ve got to have the strength to move on toward the better regardless of whether what’s been said to us. I know the makeup of other people can make that more difficult, but I can only relate the world to my own experience, successes, and failures. It is very difficult for me relate outside of that box, but outside influences can impact it for the better and worse.

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