Finding hope after self harm

Image: Finding hope after self harm

The story of a girl who beat self-harm and found Jesus.

Jesus is bigger than self-harm. The wounds he bore on the cross are sufficient to take God's wrath from you. The resurrection is proof that new life is found in Him, not just for eternity, but for now. 

Many solutions are offered for what to do to avoid self harm including exercise, writing, drawing, cold showers, phone calls and movies. You can find helpful lists over at Beyond Blue or Headspace, and as always, seek professional help if self harm is an issue for you. 

Beyond these practicality, what long-term hope is there for those who self harm? Is there ever a moment when someone can declare themselves to be 'free' from the burden of self harm? 

The answer comes in the form of a resounding 'yes'. The arms that have been littered with scars for years can be healed and never marked again. The hands that shake with the need for release can be held steady once more. The days someone takes steps to stay away can quickly turn into weeks, and weeks into months, and months into years. 

One girl's struggle with self harm

I knew a girl once; a teenage girl who used self harm as her relief after a long day, or to take control after a fight, or simply to feel something when she felt nothing. What she did to herself made sense until she had to say it out loud. 

"It's reasonable!" she would protest, "I cut myself because it makes me feel better." She would then look at the ground as she realised her words were a contradiction. She knew. 

The girl gave her life to Jesus. She gave up the burden and gave up the fight to prove that she wasn't enough for God, and accepted that in Jesus, she was enough. Yet the desire to self harm didn't go away.

She fought it for the first time, and with shaking hands would sometimes fall down. At other times, she would hand a friend her blade and ask them to throw it away. They would, and then they would sit with her, pray with her, until the cloud had passed and she felt okay again. Some times took longer than others, but over time, the clouds were less common. 

One night the girl sat outside the church, and traced the faded lines on her arm. A youth leader sat with her. "Your arms look better without cuts", they told her quietly. "I think it makes God happy to know that you're fighting."

The lines faded more, and months later were replaced by more self inflicted wounds, then they faded once more. A year later she stumbled again. The pattern continued, and she had friends who prayed for her constantly. She had friends who knew that the question, "can we go for a walk?" meant that she didn't just need exercise, she needed to get out of the house. 

You can be free

The girl I know has almost been free for three years. She hasn't considered self harm for two of those years. Her friends still pray for her. She exercises regularly to make sure her physical and mental health are stable. She gets appropriate professional help, and takes medication to manage depression. 

That story gives me hope. The girl never thought she could be free, and she is. By God's grace, she will be free for the rest of her life. Jesus is bigger than her self harm. Jesus felt so far away, but as she learned to fight the urge to self harm, she found He felt closer until eventually she realised He had never been far away. 

In Jesus, there is no condemnation. In Him, self harm can be beaten. There is long term hope. There is.

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