BCC Staff Note: You’re reading Part Four in a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog series on Cutting and Self Harm. In addition to today’s post by Shannon Kay McCoy, you can read Part One by Amy Baker 2 Lies That Must Be Defeated to Overcome Cutting, Part Two by Deepak Reju Why Do I Hate Myself?, and Part 3 by Mark Shaw Bringing Self-Harm Into the Light.
What Are You Truly Craving?
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?” That’s the cry of the psalmist in Psalm 42:5. His emotions are all over the place. He goes from despair to joy, back to despair and to joy again. Why is he speaking to his soul?
God created us with a soul—a soul that is made to crave and to be satisfied by Him alone. When we try to satisfy our souls with anything else, it leads to despair. The soul is the seat of our emotions. Emotions are perceived feelings that elicit positive or negative actions. They are the driving force behind what motivates us to think and do certain things.
Deep down in your soul, have you experienced intense emotional pain? Do you feel like you can’t express your feelings to family, friends, or people you trust? Do you feel like you have to do something to release your emotions or you will explode? Do you secretly self-mutilate to find relief?
Self-mutilation encompasses a variety of forms of intentional self-harm—cutting or burning the skin, biting, bruising or picking at skin, pulling hair strands from the scalp. If I were to ask you why do you purposely injure yourself, what would you tell me? Would you say, “It’s the only way to release emotional pain,” “I feel that I must be punished,” or “It makes me feel alive”? Sure, it may temporarily distract you from intense emotional pain in the moment, but does it really give you what you need—what you are truly craving?
You believe or hope that harming yourself will make things right. You practice cutting to atone for the guilt you feel for what you said or did. Still not satisfied, you desire to feel more pain or to see more blood flowing from your body.
You believe this is the one area of your life that you can control; and no one else can touch. You believe that inflicting physical pain gives you power over the emotional pain. However, just like a drug addict or an alcoholic, you find that you need the experience more and more to reach the same level of release.
You believe self-absorption is the way of escape. You hate yourself, say demeaning things about yourself and abuse yourself. You create your own world hoping that it will be your savior, comforter and protector. You are unable to put others before yourself without wanting something in return. You are angry at God for not blessing you with happier circumstances.
The truth is that your self-inflicted scars, pain, and blood are insufficient means of satisfying your soul. Your ways to deal with painful emotions are completely futile because Jesus Christ has already taken the scars, pain and blood on your behalf so that you don’t have to. Isaiah 53:1-5 describes the pain Jesus had to endure for you:
“But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
His shed blood was sufficient to atone for your sins.
The truth is that self-mutilation leads to destruction. Cutting and self-harm will take you to dark places you never intended to go. You are not in control, partly due to other forces beyond you. In the Bible, we find these actions are characteristic behaviors of satanic influence (1 Kings 18:24-29; Mark 5:2-5; Mark 9:17-22).
You only have two choices—either you will serve the devil or serve God. John 10:10 states, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” When you choose self-harm, you are choosing evil methods. Choose Jesus and His ways so that your soul will be satisfied.
Self-harm is self-idolatry. These actions breed an attitude of self-centeredness, i.e. self-focus, self-serving and self-identity. The very first commandment says, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). God gives that commandment because He loves you. He wants to be your Savior, Comforter and Protector.
If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ, then His promises are for you. He says in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” That is extravagant love for you from an Amazing God.
Let the Gospel Set You Free
I have three challenges for you:
1. I want to challenge you to first acknowledge the sin of self-harm and repent. The truth is that you have “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).
2. Secondly, make the choice to turn from self-worship to worship God. This is the only way for your soul to be satisfied. Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” We are made for His glory—not our own. Worship is not worship unless it is transforming. Worshiping God removes those controlling idols from your heart.
3. Thirdly, live the gospel every day. Remembering who you are in Christ will set you free. Your identity is not that of a cutter! You are dead to that identity. Romans 6:11 says, “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” You are no longer a slave to the sins of cutting and self-harm.
Speak to your soul like the psalmist did in Psalm 42. He expressed his pain but fought to speak the truth about God. He worshiped God and found hope for his soul. You are alive to God because of what Christ has done for you. Stop living a lie and live the truth because “the truth will set you free.” John 8:32.
Join the Conversation
Do you ever find yourself trying to atone for your sin, forgetting what Christ has done for you? What lies are you believing about those vices and how can the truth set you free?