Are You A Martyr?

I wear my heart on my sleeve. I have a thin skin. Some might say I am overly sensitive. The other day in work a colleague made a comment about me that I found very hurtful. So much so, that I was taken completely off guard and unable to respond. I had to excuse myself and retreat to the toilets where I attempted to regain my composure. My heart was racing and I felt faint. It was as if I was back at school, the shy, chubby boy being bullied by the cool kids.

Part of me wanted to confront this person about the comment. He appeared utterly oblivious to the damage he had caused with the glib, throwaway remark. I had witnessed his casually cruel tongue before but never been on the receiving end until now. Worst of all this person was a Christian, a man who portrayed himself as clean living, church going example to the rest of the office. I was angry, disappointed and confused.

I said nothing in the end. I let it go. I’m not sure if that was the right thing to do. Time will tell. I had half hoped he would have approached me in the days that followed to apologise, but that has yet to happen. I’ve largely avoided him since and any communication between us has been minimal on my part. That’s what I do when I am hurt. I curl up into a ball like a frightened hedgehog and withdraw from the situation in question.

I’m good at playing the victim, the martyr. Part of me thrives on it even. I mope around, licking my wounds, feeling sorry for myself and lapping up any scraps of pity and sympathy thrown my way. Poor little Stephen. It is at times like this I need to take a good, long look in the mirror and see myself for what I truly am. To peel away the layers of ego and confront the hard, cold truth. For I am a hypocrite.

When I was young I sometimes wondered why I was named after a Bible character who featured so briefly before being promptly stoned to death. Why couldn’t I have been named after a more heroic figure like David, Joshua or Samson. Ok, maybe not Samson. Samson Black makes me sound like a WWE wrestler. And the last thing any of us wants to see is me prancing around the ring in a pair of rhinestone encrusted Speedos.

Now I realise that Stephen was a greater hero than any of them. He didn’t lay waste to opposing armies on the battlefield, swinging a mighty sword and performing great acts of courage and heroism. His bravery was a different kind. He instead stood before his prosecutors and spoke the truth with eloquence and dignity, before stoically dying for what he believed in. He refused to denounce his faith and was willing to give up his life for what he believed in.

His martyrdom was selfless and for others, unlike my own pale imitation which is motivated by neediness and attention seeking. For I am a bigger hypocrite than the man who struck me with a metaphorical stone during the week. I think of all the hurtful things I have said and done to those I care about. Then I realise that I have no right to take the high moral ground. Let he who is without sin throw the first stone? I have thrown more than I care to recall.

I have yet to forgive the man for his comment but realise this is what I must do in order to move on. I should also be thankful for him. For the incident has revealed to me faults and failings that I need to address in my own life. People who I hurt and whose forgiveness I should be seeking as opposed to focusing on my own petty concerns. The truth hurts but it is the best kind of pain. Sometimes we need to embrace that pain and never let go.

Are you a hypocrite?

Do you play the martyr?

What do you need to do to address situations in your life where you can do better?

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

54 thoughts on “Are You A Martyr?

  1. I am pretty much the same; in the moment, if I’m caught totally off guard then I have no response but I feel like it’s them with the issue and not me so why would I respond anyway. The situation will often then play on my mind for perhaps days after (thinking of all the things I could have said back!), by which time their throw-away comment was simply that, they threw it out there and forgot about it. I’ll sometimes even return to these thoughts and feelings months or even years later; frustrating!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Have you ever heard the term “Empath”? Or “Highly Sensitive Person”? About 20% of the human population has a nervous system that is much more sensitive than the majority. We even take on the feelings of others.

    But there is a way to master it and use it as a super power.

    If I had been in that office building when that coworker said something hurtful to you, I would have felt it just as strongly as you did. I would have known everything going through you as you headed to that bathroom and I would have felt the tears you were holding back as if they were my own. THAT is how sensitive empaths and HSPs are. We don’t just take on the insulting comment, we take on the emotions of the person directing the hatred towards us as well. And we can confuse it as our own emotions.

    After learning everything I have about myself as a sensitive, I would have looked that man straight in the eye and as politely as possible said “What comes out of you when the world squeezes real tight? Do you act with anger, hostility? Disrespect? I can see that you do… and do you know why that is? BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT’S INSIDE OF YOU. Address your wounds, sir. Because until you do, you will bleed all over people who didn’t even cut you. Then I would let him know I was there for him if he needed to talk and I would come see about you.

    Perhaps that is the lesson in something so uncomfortable… next time you find someone else on the receiving end of his vitriol, you may be feeling more confident.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know that I had people talk down to me so often because it was teaching me how to stand up. And how to do it with grace.


    Liked by 3 people

  3. No, just letting it go was not the best thing to do. When you hold onto and keep quiet about things that bother you that much, you apply another layer of anxiety like stacking pancakes.
    Bullies and aggressive people need to be confronted, using assertive behavior. Look up topics on being an assertive and confident person.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. With the Willy Winka picture, i just had to read this post today and I’m glad i did.

    One rarely will have the wherewithal to react correctly in these situations. We’ve all been there. Most never go back and ask forgive3for being offended, or forgive the offender. Tge fact that you are contemplating it is wonderful. Not sure if I’d have the guts to, but it’s something Jesus told us to do.

    Love your writing and insight

    Be blessed


  5. I’ve been there… Done that!
    Some things I’ve learned:

    The things that may hurt me most are ones that have a truth in them I don’t want to hear.

    I can’t truly forgive unless I am asked to forgive, but I can decide to either tell the person “you may not have realized that what you said hurt me really badly” OR deal with it and truly let it go (is an act of forgiving – sort of).

    Avoiding one who hurts people is a good thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It seems nearly daily I’m thanking God for some kind of dross burning moment, a painful situations where someone else’s character deficit reveals mine. I love that you explored it, exposed it, confessed the pattern, and realize becaming grateful for the insight and desiring restitution is the way forward; clearly God’s sanctifying hand at work. Stay the course Stephen, all of humanity suffers the same condition but few find the truly humbling and freeing path you’re on. Blessings brother.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I am exactly the same. And what’s worst if it comes from another “Christian”, Paul said it best when he spoke about the church leaders identifying the bad behaviors of others within the church walls. “Christians” aren’t exempt from the temptation of negative. We tend to fall into old habits. Forgiveness and change is a daily lesson we have to learn. I agree with not saying anything, but I do believe in speaking up about the hurt feelings. Sometimes what we say, godly of course can help the other person realize their character flaws and correct them. God doesn’t hesitate to let us know when we’re wrong. 🤔 you’ll be fine, it’s just the anger and pride we’ve got too keep in control. Oh, does it come on like a hurricane, 😤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Don’t beat yourself up. It is hard to know what to do that will not escalate the situation, and especially in the workplace. I think you did it well. Believe me, someday the guy will learn that what he had been doing is wrong, and maybe he will apologize. But I found that bullies don’t think what they do is wrong, so maybe I am being idealistic.


  9. We all do the best we can in any moment. It is important to forgive ourselves because if we cannot do that, it is harder to forgive others. When it comes to playing the martyr, I have been very guilty of that. Of course, I was named Cristy, so that’s after the ultimate martyr of Christianity… oh well, years of therapy to overcome following in the footsteps of my mother, who is named Christine. We need to remember the grace of the gift that allows us NOT to be martyrs, perhaps.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You’re not alone, Mr. Hedgehog. I assumed most guys didn’t react this way, though ’cause they act all stoic and punch each other’s arms.
    Next time you need to tell the guy that was a jerk thing to do and THEN head off to the toilets to rub your shoulder after you two punch and make up.
    For right now? Probably still tell him. “Hey, two days ago, that was a jerk thing to do -” oh, wait. Wrong lingo. “Hey, mate. That jibe Tuesday last was the copy machine’s bullocks.”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You’re not alone, Mr. Hedgehog. I assumed most guys didn’t react this way, though ’cause they act all stoic and punch each other’s arms.
    Next time you need to tell the guy that was a jerk thing to do and THEN head off to the toilets to rub your shoulder after you two punch and make up.
    For right now? Probably still tell him. “Hey, two days ago, that was a jerk thing to do -” oh, wait. Wrong lingo. “Hey, mate. That jibe Tuesday last was the copy machine’s bullocks.”


  12. Samson Black WWE wrestler 🤣😂 lol! Actually sounds nice! I think one of the biggest battles that we fight within ourselves is knowing when to speak up and knowing when to hold our tongue. Well at least for some people it is. For others they just speak out and never hold her tongue. Which can be very bad. Some things are just not worth the battle and we have to pride ourselves on that.

    I haven’t played the victim very often because I’m not a victim but sometimes I have and I’ve also been the martyr.

    I do think is very important that we stand up for ourselves because God-made us bold. We just have to know when to do it!

    This is such a great post!

    Thank you


  13. Oh, how I can relate. Most of my biblical heroes of the faith traveled this route of being a target. Faulty is my middle name. Yet, I find comfort when reading of faith-giants who were abused far more. Great insight here. -Alan from Dallas, Texas

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I also wear my heart on my sleeve. I keep a list of ideas that I have on topics to write blogs about. One of those topics is “Why is being a martyr so appealing?” I haven’t really had time to think about it yet, but now I may move this to the top of my list.

    I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all to walk away from a confrontation. I live in a community with a lot of Amish members. I look up to them as an example of how to forgive others. Their ability to forgive is amazing and admirable.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Are we not, all of us, both light and dark? Is that not part and parcel of the human condition? I think your reaction to pain is pretty much a common reaction. I loved this post. Thank you for some very worthwhile questions and your gift of insight. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I was so moved reading this, Stephen – you’re so hard on yourself. It sounds like the experience with your co-worker was very shaming, and shame is such a difficult emotion. As Christiane Sanderson says it “drenches the soul”. I hope you can find a way to offer yourself some compassion and understanding, otherwise you’re giving that “shy, chubby boy being bullied by the cool kids” a really hard time, and it sounds like he’s been through enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Being upset at others for things they have done to hurt me and holding a grudge against them is something that I have been working on for months with my therapist. This is a truly difficult and emotional journey, often times bringing up even more old wounds. Yes, I have played the martyr at several points in my life and I am now trying to correct those behaviors. Thank you for writing about this and sharing. It gives me encouragement to keep learning and trying.


  18. I used to be like that: get hurt and then go pout and stew in my juices because I am sensitive and thin skinned too. I’ve made good progress on that over the years though…still have a ways to go… but good progress.
    Some thoughts: 1) I realized that its not all about me. People speak and act out of who THEY are, not who I am. The world is full of people with issues and they act/react accordingly. 2) I now address the situation right then and there. That often settles it because the person will either not realize they said anything hurtful and will apologize, or, if they are a nasty bully, they will not be used to being confronted with their behavior and will stop acting like a jerk for fear of further confrontation (bullies are often cowards). 3) Not all who claim to be Christians actually are, so don’t expect anything from a Christian that you wouldn’t expect from a nonchristian 4) Even Christians make mistakes (if it is a habit though, it is not a mistake), so you just need to forgive and move on. 5) I developed the habit of saying “So What” to myself….meaning that most things that happen in life have very little meaning in the grand scheme of things and just are not worth getting upset about.
    This works a lot better for me than the pouting and stewing that I did for years. =)
    thank you for your post. You always make me think!! =)


  19. “The truth hurts but it is the best kind of pain,” so powerful. When people hurt me emotionally I don’t get angry, I get distant.


  20. I recently had something happen to me that tripped me up for a few days. After these days I reached out to the person and even though I dont think they really understood me I have been inspired to discuss these issues, properly on my blogs. I see a lot of Christians stumbling others and mainly because kindness is not shown as well as ignorance, related to my issue. I had to step away before I could step in. And I am glad I took that break. I hope you have a break of healing.


  21. I can be a bit of a jerk. I hide behind humor, so any joke I can make usually gets made, and I don’t always think of how my words affect other people. At least, not until later: then, I panic, grow increasingly certain that people secretly hate me, and spend the next [insert time here] feeling sorry for myself. So, yeah. I guess I’m a bit of a martyr. And, well, everyone’s a hypocrite, in something or other.


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