About the Author

Annie F. Downs is a bestselling author and nationally known speaker based in Nashville, Tennessee. Her most recent books include 100 Days to Brave, Looking for Lovely and Let’s All Be Brave. Read more at anniefdowns.com and follow her at @anniefdowns.

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  1. Annie,
    I’ve had to speak the truth in love and many times, like you illustrated, there is healing in the hurting. Sometimes, it doesn’t quite work that way. I spoke, what I thought, was the truth in love to my adult daughter and have been greeted with a two month silence on her part. This really hurts! Traditionally, I have always been the one extending the olive branch, but I have felt a tug (by God?) not to do so again. The silence hurts indeed, but I wonder if sometimes, after trying, we need to step back and let God and the Holy Spirit do their work?! I’m definitely navigating uncharted waters…
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • Man oh man! Kudos to you for leaning into the hard moments. Often we want to take control rather than allow God to move into spaces and other’s hearts. Maybe we are trying to still control the outcome despite opening the communication channels? I know I do. Prayers to you that God will speak into the hurtful areas.

    • Anne, thank you for sharing about your difficulties with your daughter. I never thought of speaking what needs to be said, & then just waiting for God to work. Maybe all of my phone calls, trying to make peace, are just making things worse. I’m going to do my best to be patient & leave it in God’s hands. How I’ll deal with (J), I don’t know. His dementia has caused a lot of stress in our home. I’ll try to leave that in God’s hands too.

    • I too am navigating these waters Bev.. Although it’s a different kind iof boat I’m floundering in! My 3 adult children have had a wide chasm of space and indifference between them, tho they all love and serve out God in different degrees. Some more than I can fathom and some less. One middle child will not forgive his sister and my grandchildren are distant now as well from each other unless us grandparents round them up for a day of fun.. God knows what’s been said.. How it’s been received, yet I feel the need to fix it? It’s been 4 months to no avail.. Counseling is their answer but no one has scheduled it yet.. Prayer is the answer.. In the time of past ages and in this time.. God will do what needs be done but I need to just be mom.. Harder job than most would think .. Praising Him with y’all .. Blessings. Sharon

    • Bev, I am so grateful for your sharing this morning, for these beautiful insights. I understand this place-I recently reached out to someone and am having to trust that the Lord is at work in this despite no response. It does hurt-the space and silence! Praying, dear sister, that the Lord brings you together soon into the spacious pastures of His love 🙂

  2. Shew! Second time this week I have heard this message (and it’s only Tuesday!). Think God is trying to tell me something? I have a tough conversation I’ve been sweeping under the rug. A conversation I need to say because in an effort to protect a relationship with my silence, I’m unintentionally creating distance. Prayers for boldness, strength, and love in my conversation, please!

    • Chelsey, just prayed for you that God will help you be brave and do this hardest kind of investing. May He prepare both parties to share and receive in love. And may He work peace in your heart no matter the outcome.

  3. God’s taken me on a similar journey of learning the importance of entering those hard conversations. They have deepened and strengthened my friendships, but it’s still tempting to believe the lie that’s better to just leave things alone. Thanks for the reminder to press in!

  4. I have looked hard at my own practices in this matter of “saying the hard thing,” and the unflattering truth is that when I’m lazy, when I don’t value a person as I should, I will “let things go,” rather than dealing with a situation that needs a blast of truth from both sides. Even though I know this to be true, your words today are a reminder to me NOT to slide back into the easy and the lazy. It was for this very thing that Jesus came to Earth – the ministry of reconciliation (which is not nearly as fun or as lofty as it sounds in print!).

  5. I can’t believe how perfect this article is for me today. My ex-husband, (who I live with platonic-ally due to illness), & our son,(D) his wife (K) & myself have been having a lot of strife in our relationships. I think it started when my X (J) got dementia. He’s convinced our son (D), doesn’t love him or want anything to do with him. So (J) phones (D) over & over each day, just to hear his voice. If he can’t reach him, he cries & says he can’t go on any longer. I try to make peace between the two, & end up saying something upsetting to one or the other. I love them both, but being caught in the middle is hard. Somehow, I manage to say something hurtful or just plain stupid. Please pray for us that we will find healing in our family. We are all Christians, but not doing a very good job of acting like it. Colossians 3:13 says, “BEAR WITH EACH OTHER & FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER IF ANY OF YOU HAS A GRIEVANCE AGAINST SOMEONE. FORGIVE AS THE LORD FORGAVE YOU.”

  6. Annie,
    This came to me this morning and has been a much needed read. I am trying to deal with some difficulties in a couple relationships. There have been some hurtful things said and done. I too have refrained from confrontation which has left me feeling pretty down. I have felt like I have lost my voice to speak in many ways. I am praying for courage to find the right words to have these conversations. It won’t be easy. Thank you for writing this.

  7. Your words are so true and gave a voice to my experiences. Thank you for drawing out the value and necessity of having tough conversations with those we love and care deeply for.

  8. What a beautiful Truth. It leads to intimacy. I thought of that Proverb and looked it up 🙂
    Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
    But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Proverbs 27;6

    We are all wounded, me toooo !! and those conversations are necessary. Thank you for sharing this!

  9. Lack of communication destroys so many relationships. Friends, relatives, marriages. We need to be able to get past the hurt and that means talking about it. Great article!

  10. Annie, I praise the Lord for this grace, this tender message that I need. The Lord is helping me to baby step my way into speaking and receiving hard truth; that forgiveness means feeling the hard things and letting go-reconciliation is facing the hard things together and letting go so that we can grow together, God there in the midst helping us through with His mercy and love. I love how you said “Value yourself, value your people, and be brave.” May we each be able to follow the Lord in speaking the truth with each other, bearing and loving one another in humility, with His grace and patience, loving one another to speak truth to each other 🙂

  11. Annie,

    I feel if a friendship is worth keeping, then truth must be said. Talk to each other and let them know how you feel. It isn’t always easy with family members, though. Sometimes you just have to love them and forget about the past. Prayer is another alternative. God knows the heart of every person.

    Blessings 🙂

  12. Oh Annie! So glad you shared these words. We must model well the truth that confrontation in love is worth the awkward hard. Relationships bloom more fully when we do the hard conversations well. Good stuff!

  13. I believe this way and have tried to live it out but when people say they are grateful your so truthful they often don’t mean it. This is why like some already stated; speak in truth and love and you never hear from them again. It was only good as long as it wasn’t directed towards them. I can’t stop it’s how I want to be treated as well in truth and love

  14. Ugh. Yes. Amen. Sometimes I wish all this weren’t true and we could just ONLY have fun and say all the nice things we both want to hear… but I’m walking through this very scenario right now with someone I love deeply.
    Thank you for sharing this. Very timely.

  15. It’s isn’t true to “just get over it”. Tlak it out when you can, what is hard is to have to let go when you can’t talk to someone. So When then happens jsut pray for them.

  16. Perfectly timed post. Thank you, Annie, and thank you God. Parenting emerging adults is harder than I thought … I wait and pray for God’s timing and wise and compassionate words, coupled with ears and heart bent toward listening.

  17. I would caution anyone that shares the truth in love, that firstly it is the truth and secondly that it is loving. If done in anger or hurt this will often make things worse. If we are not right in our relationship with God or are not informed about what is really going on in someone life and make judgment calls this may not be what the person needs – a little grace goes a long way.
    Love is patient, love is kind and it does not keep a record of wrongs ❤️

  18. I’m old enough to know from experience the truth of your words, Annie. Yet I still hold back, not willing to cause hurt and anger. You’re so right though: “Truth in love may hurt, WILL hurt…, but it will also heal.” I need to take the risk while looking forward to the outcome of sweet healing. Thank you, Annie!

  19. In all reality, I’m a nonconfronter. I have lost numerous friends because neither of us wants to deal with it. However, I frequently have to have hard talks with myself because God has convicted my heart. My pride will get in the way and I’ll complain about whatever it is, but my hope is to become more obedient.

  20. I so agree with Nicky. I don’t think from the sound of it that this is the case with you, but so often I hear women at church say things like “Well, I was speaking the truth in love. It’s too bad she couldn’t listen.”

    That isn’t love.

    I would caution anyone who is about to go out and confront someone to 1. Réad the Biblical model of confrontation and 2. Pray, pray, pray a d be sure that you are actually confronting the person in a sincere effort to heal things.

    Speaking the truth in love doesn’t look like winning a battle with the Bible as your weapon. Unfortunately, I have seen it happen that way SO many times.

    Finally, I am the opposite of you. I actually prefer to talk about everything in relationships. I like everything to be transparent. However, as I have aged I have learned that most simple misunderstanding derstand in gs and hurt feelings will heal with a little bit of time and prayer. Not every grievance needs to be spoken and it isn’t up to us to change anyone’s behavior. It is simply up to us to love them.

  21. Thanks for your post. It’s good to be reminded that we need to sometimes say the hard and difficult things, but in love. Only yesterday I had a hard conversation with my son’s school administrator about some things going on at the school and stuff I had heard. It was a conversation I did not want to have. One I dreaded. The administrator was new and I didn’t even know her. I prayed about it and told my son about my appointment I had made and he said, “Mom, go in as a friend. like you are helping her.’ Such wisdom. So that was one of the first things out of my mouth, “I am coming as a friend.” And you know what, God blessed that conversation and we did leave as friends.

  22. Also a”lets have a great time” friend… but as I’ve hit 40 I’ve seen so much need for clear, real, friendship. Thanks for living out and writing out the fun and not so fun realities of loving people!
    Jen

  23. This is a good time for me to read this, not because I have to say the hard thing, but because I have said it and am waiting for the healing to come. Sometimes it is not received, sometimes you lose someone, sometimes the pain continues. I do know I had to say it… finally. I hate confrontation. I hate rejection. But sometimes there is no other solution. I’m glad your’s went well and healing is present in both of you.