Originally published on johnpavlovitz.com

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 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, you may not have felt failure in anything less than perfection.

Someone should have told you that you were not what people said you were. That 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.