When you hear the words “self-harm” what emotions or thoughts come to mind? Do you think of yourself as one who struggles with self-harm? Do you think of self-harm only in terms of other people? In other words, do you see yourself as one who doesn’t harm yourself? In light of Sunday’s sermon at Flatland Church, I’m rethinking my entire view of what self-harm is.
In my own lifetime, I have said the words “I need a drink”, meaning one with alcohol in it. I have said “I need a cigarette”. The list for me goes on. These were lies I told myself. The truth is that the human body does not require smoke in our lungs, nor alcohol in our bloodstream. The truth is that I felt that an escape from my current frame of mind would do me good. Both alcohol and tobacco caused damage my body to some degree and absolutely lowered my body’s ability to fight disease. My coping mechanism was trust in worldly “solutions” and drove me in the opposite direction from trust in the Lord. For example, I can’t walk North without turning my back on South.
Aside from drugs, I do a lot of negative self-talk. In fact, the National Science Foundation did a study in 2017 (prior to covid) and found that 80% of our thoughts are negative. As for myself, I ponder and even revisit past sins – even though these sins have already been forgiven. What I’m doing, in essence, is arguing with God over who’s right – Him or me. I still believe I need to receive punishment long after the Judge (Jesus) pronounced me “justified”. Revisiting and reliving my past sins as if I’m still unworthy, is believing a lie, not God. Lying, even to myself, is self-harm.
Self-harm is a control issue. In a world of chaos, this is something I can control about my life. What God wants me to do is let Him sit in the driver’s seat of my life. Because the truth is He can do a perfect job if I don’t struggle with Him at the wheel. No matter what the trial I am going through, God is with me in the fire. And He is anxious to show me the other side.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 NIV