The Cost of Silence

rose in winterOnly one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth,
and that is not speaking it.
~Naomi Wolf

Life is hard sometimes, not always made up of syrupy storybook tales as some faith-pushers would have us believe. I met Jesus under the umbrella of belief that all is well once you “cross over.” I’ve since learned all is indeed well, but not necessarily as was represented. Christian or not, suppressed emotional pain stains one’s soul.

Silence isn’t always the serene, lustrous golden picture that people paint. When forced upon us, a prohibitive silence darkens the eyes and swallows the spirit. The nothingness permeates our soul, attempting to steal a divine gift, our very identity.

Your voice matters.

Pull that truth in tight. Inhale the freshness. Taste the freedom.

You aren’t helpless. Alone. Trapped. You are important in God’s eyes. You are not defined by what has happened to you, or even your own wrong choices; these things will not destroy you. You are loved. Needed. And what you have to say is important.

Intoxicating, isn’t it? Liberating.

But only for a moment, right?

Dare you believe it? The Pollyanna euphemisms fade fairly quickly, don’t they, as you default to what you know? After a brief escape, your mind pulls back. You may still feel like what you have to say isn’t meaningful, relevant, or valued. It’s hard to forget those times when you were forced to keep secrets or someone made you feel worthless, inferior, or at best, unvalued. Or worse, those times when someone hurt you physically or verbally as they pumped their self-ego at the price of your fragile self-worth.

I well know the roar of silence, the taste of fear. I’ve lived the numbing quiet of emotional pain and unfathomable trials. But I’ve also held the hand of freedom. Savored the liberty to speak.

A tumultuous journey of childhood sexual abuse, life-threatening physical and emotional abuse in a former “Christian” marriage, and a 20-year bulimic struggle threatened to derail God’s purpose for my life. With a shattered sense of safety, I learned to distrust God. I made countless poor choices stemming from low esteem while the fallout of painful life experiences left me voiceless for years.

But it didn’t have to be that way.

Over time, in the healing shadow of Jesus, I addressed the toxic beliefs that had soiled my life and perverted my thoughts.

Funny how we live out what we believe.

As I learned to apply the truth of scripture, I couldn’t help but think differently. Unaware in the midst of it, I was retraining my brain.

Today, I use my formerly silenced voice to tell others about God’s goodness and the plan he has for us as women to live a life of abundance, joy, and purpose. A free life. A full life.

I am only one of countless women who have suffered emotional pain. While the scope is diverse, pain is pain—individual and not to be compared. This common connection links me with soul-wounded women all around the world. Most likely, I share this bond with you. These are our stories. And stories like ours deserve to be dialogued.

As my beautiful friend Catherine Darnell says, “Together our found voices and collective stories gain power and strength, and bare witness to God’s unfailing love for each one of us.”  During his earthly tenure, Jesus went out of his way to reach the silenced and ignored; He does the same for us today.


Have you ever felt like what you have to say isn’t important or valued? Consider sharing with us in the comments section (you can post anonymously if needed) so we can pray with you?

9 thoughts on “The Cost of Silence

  1. Great article! My own silence nearly killed me as it took it’s toll on my life. It gripped my life in a web of despair that left me feeling unworthy, unloved, trapped, and desperate. Then one day I woke up and realized I had to get help. Through seeking this help I learned to speak up and thank God I did. Speaking up was no easy thing to do and was quite painful and still is quite painful at times, but I will continue to speak up now because I have learned that through speaking up I have found healing for my wounded spirit and soul. We were not meant to travel these journey’s alone and in complete silence. It is okay to speak up. Through prayer, Bible study and meditation, and through counseling I have found my voice and I will continue to use it.

    Thanks for sharing with us, Rhonda

    • Rhonda,

      I am so sorry for the difficult life experiences. It hurts my heart when I hear of someone’s despair. But I thank GOD for your healing, for your VOICE! Another wounded warrior in the battle with us — praise HIS holy name.

      Thanks for your visit, and for sharing.

  2. This was so needed. Thank you Jo Ann for speaking up for thousands of women who feel they do not have a voice. Women who are being physically, emotional, or spiritual abused God wants to hear you; BE SILENT NO MORE!

  3. You addressed so many things in this article. For me, I also had to deal with “holy rollers” who nearly convinced me that something was wrong “with me” because I wasn’t able to “get past” my pain. When in fact, it was my relationship with Christ that opened my long-silent-heart and empowered me to face it and to continue to pursue healing. Even now, I wish I could say I have arrived at that perfect place. The truth is, I have learned that the more I “SPEAK UP” the more freedom and ground I gain. SILENCE hid me, but MY VOICE opened the road to freedom. Thank you for this my dear sister and friend. I love the truth and boldness in this peace. May it’s heartfelt sound penetrate the fear… and apprehension and move others to tell their story…

    • Oh, Theresa, you brought it home my dear friend…we find our voice as we start to use it and we CONTINUE to use it. I thank GOD that you use your voice so powerfully as an instrument of HIS truth. And I thank HIM for your healing, which now impacts countless hears.

  4. Thank you for sharing these important truths Jo Ann. So much is lost through our seasons of silence, yet when we release it’s grip we are set free. All the lost years, broken dreams and the devastation born out through abuse can be restored. Trust and surrender have been great challenges, yet He waited patiently for me to discover it’s liberating freedom.

    • “When we release the grip of silence, we are set free!” Amen, Catherine. God will restore our lost years, and that fills me with joy. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I had trauma in my childhood but overall my childhood wasn’t a disaster. However, as my walk with the Lord deepened, it seemed the hurts in my life increased. It was a snowball effect. One hurt dealt with and another compounding hurt followed. For the most part I have stayed close to the Lord and He HAS seen me through only to face another and more traumatic hurt. I am now 62 years old and in the past 12 years I have experienced a devastating divorce. My 31 year old son was shot and killed not 40 feet away from me in 2010. I just received an email from my 39 year old daughter who says she is now agnostic. My other son won’t have anything to do with me along with my ex who has remarried. I feel totally abandoned by my family and I am beginning to feel that I am cursed or that I have committed some unpardonable sin and this is my punishment for being a failure as a wife and mother. The Lord use to use me in powerful ways in ministering to other hurting people. I now feel useless, I feel I have not brought ANY glory to God and if I shared my hurts with anyone they would NEVER want to become a Christian. I am in so much pain and have no answers. I thought I was doing the will of God in my life and following Him…. now I’m not so sure what I was doing with my life and if God was ever with me at all. My hurts are too numerous to list. I feel like Job but I don’t see a happy ending for me.

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