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Just Another Vice: Self Harm

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When I was a little girl I can remember a lot of bicycle accidents that I had throughout my childhood. I remember one in particular because it happened in front of people. I was about to go down this huge hill in my neighborhood and as the speed of my wheels picked up my feet couldn’t keep up with the pedals so my handlebars went thrusting forward which caused me to fall off the bike and on to my stomach. I slid a good way down that hill on my knees and hands. I stood up and tried so hard not to cry but the gravel pieces sticking to my bloody knees gave way to tears.  I ran home embarrassed and in pain. 

Today I get the privilege of sharing with you about self harm. I am not a counselor and I don’t claim to know the answers for all who find themselves harming their bodies. I do however have the hope of Jesus and it’s my prayer that if you read this and if you struggle with cutting, eating disorders or other addictions you will feel the weight of God’s love. 

I have never cut myself, nor have I tried to commit suicide, but I have hidden in the darkness with a bag of Oreos to eat and then vomit.  It brought relief and made me feel as if what I felt about my body would somehow go away. I was overweight and I knew it, and yet I would order salads in public and binge on whatever I could as soon as I would get home.  It was a form of self harm that was crushing me on the inside. I felt worthless and full of shame every single time I would make myself throw up or starve myself. The mirror and scales became my biggest enemy because they triggered non stop failure in me.  

When we think about self harming we immediately go to cutting. I have worked with girls rescued from human trafficking and several of those girls cut on a regular basis on their wrist, their stomachs and their thighs. I asked once why it was in those areas and they simply said “ I can keep it covered”.  Those words are true whether you cut or not. When we are experiencing deep emotional wounds, and chaos in our lives we run to cover.  Today I want you to hear that uncovering that wound thats been pierced in your heart can be healed by Jesus.  We desperately want to feel and if cutting or overeating can allow us to feel something whether it’s shame or some type of relief then we tend to cling to those things.  

In Mark 5 we see this man who was tortured by a demon.  I am not saying you are possessed or have an impure spirit in you (please hear me say that) but in this passage of scripture two verses have rocked my world. 

“Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.” Mark 5:5

This poor man. He was tortured day in and day out and he sought relief by cutting himself. He wanted to escape the torture.  Imagine seeing him in your city naked, cut and moaning with deep emotional pain that you could never imagine.  Sweet friend maybe I am describing you minus the running around naked in your city part. You feel tortured, unheard not good enough, used, abused, or filled with self hatred and you believe by cutting you will find relief. I promise it may come for a moment but in the in end all it will really do is leave a line of scars across your body and your heart. 

God sent Jesus to bring us the ultimate relief. He said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” THIS IS OUR HOPE. There is no struggle to big for our Creator. There is no past that is out of His reach. There is no addiction He can’t redeem and there are no scars across your heart that He can’t heal. 

Look back at verse 20 in Mark 5 it gives me all the chills.

“So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolisb how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.” Mark 5:20

This passage of scripture goes from a man cutting, naked and moaning to a man running away telling people what Jesus had done for him.  I may have not cut, but believe you me the scars I wear across my heart has revealed over the years the pain that I hid for so long.  I truly believe that struggles we face either brought on ourselves through sin, or by someone else are inevitable, but I also believe that just like this man when we encounter Jesus things change. Hope begins to rise from the depth of our pain and healing begins to happen.  That story of me being so embarrassed was because I wrecked in front of everyone that day, but also on that day my best friend came to my house to check on me to make sure I was ok. See when we allow people in to our mess they are able to walk beside us to the cross. They are able to uncover the truths of God’s Word when the pain is too loud or there is no strength left.  

The last part of verse 20 says “and all of the people were amazed”. They had seen this man in the graveyard and now telling others about Jesus. Friend we are no different. We were walking around dead in our sin begging for rescue and out of His reckless pursuit He saved me and He will or has already saved you.  Your junk isn’t too dirty or messy for God.  This man was physically naked but imagine his heart in that moment. I believe we have to strip down to the core and then allow the Creator to clothe us piece by piece with His grace, His redemption, His healing and salvation.  

Today be encouraged to know that you are not alone.  My mess has become the platform for my ministry to tell others about God’s freedom. I still struggle and battle Oreos (yum) but I know that my story of food addiction has become my story of freedom in someone else’s life.  I refuse to hide in the grave because my Jesus walked out of His grave so that I could too!  

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