Three Years and Counting

4-healing-hearts

Today is a very special anniversary for me. Even as I write this, I hesitate to share it. It makes me nervous to think of my secret finally getting out there for all the world to see. But if I don’t share the pain of needing a deliverer, how will God be glorified?

So, here’s my confession: Three years ago today, I cut myself for the last time.

It started sometime when I was sixteen. Anxiety and self-loathing would build up in me until I was desperate for some sort of relief. It started with scratches from a pin and graduated from there. I had a pocket knife in my room that I brought out of hiding when I needed a distraction from the pain.

If you’ve never self-harmed (and I pray you never do) then it’s difficult to explain how it helped. It’s this release; an outer manifestation of an inner pain. And it’s a punishment, something that left me feeling like I’d paid my debt and could continue on my way without too much guilt.

It didn’t happen often, but every few months, after things had been building up for too long and the pressure was high, some little thing would set me off. I would go off on my own and I would hurt myself until I didn’t hurt anymore.

I am ashamed of what I did; many people who self-harm are. Because of this, very little is known about the compulsion. And many people don’t know how to stop.

If you have ever self-harmed, you might be where I was three years ago, wondering where the path to healing begins. Well, here’s what I’ve learned so far…

Step 1. Realize that every time you hurt yourself, you’re hurting one of God’s beloved. I tried to earn a place as His child for years, then He showed me that He doesn’t value me because I’m valuable, I’m valuable because He values me. The same is true for you. You are irreplaceable to Him, invaluable in His eyes. He sees your every tear and He desires to give you peace and joy. He loves you and, no matter what you do, He’s waiting for you with open arms. Psalm 56:8 says:

‘You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?’

Step 2. Identify who you’re really trying to hurt. For me it was a lot of self-punishment. But there were also people in my life whom I blamed (unfairly) for my struggles over feelings of loneliness and worthlessness. In some twisted way, I felt like punishing myself would punish them. I had to let go of the grudges against myself and others so I could forgive and move on. I had to let God take charge of justice.

“For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.””

Romans 9:15

Step 3. Tell someone. I’d read this step in my own research and always hated it. I didn’t want to let anyone know I was damaged; I was sure I could figure things out on my own. But I kept relapsing. So I finally broke down and shared my secret. I expected to feel better and I expected to be helped, but as it turned out, the topic was too shameful and embarrassing for the parties I told to cope with. It wasn’t until I met my future husband that I trusted someone else with this secret. My Hubby (well, boyfriend, at the time) couldn’t have handled it better. He was understanding but not intrusive. At first, he only asked that if I felt the compulsion to cut again, that I call him first. Then, over the next few months, he gently asked me more about it, prayed with me and took away my knife, and asked to see my scars, one by one. He helped me see and understand my true value in God. I know God used him to set me free from cutting and I know I wouldn’t have made it three years without him. Keep looking until you find that friend and helper for you.

“For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.”

Ecclesiastes 4:10

Step 4. Don’t be alone. When I would get upset enough to hurt myself, I would go off on my own for hours. Sometime it was just up to my bedroom, other times it was after driving somewhere far away. I recognized early on that if I wanted to stop cutting, I’d need someone to make sure I wasn’t on my own when I was upset. My husband became that person for me. Whenever I would get upset, I’d seek him out and stay close by his side. If I was too upset to make that rational choice, he would seek me out instead. The important thing was that I had someone there to talk it out with me.

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?”

Psalm 139:7

Step 5. Celebrate your declaration of freedom. At first, I looked into laser scar removal so I could erase my sins and get a fresh start. But I realized that God doesn’t always cover our mistakes; sometimes He transforms them. Erasing my scars would have just given me a blank canvas to start again on. I needed to remember. So instead, I went to a tattoo artist and asked her to put butterfly wings on my final scar. Now, whenever the temptation to cut rises up again, I look on that image of new beginnings and the words to my life verse (Is. 43:1) and remember that God gives beauty for ashes. I’m not saying you have to get a tattoo, but set an Ebenezer, a milestone that marks how far God brought you and declares clearly that there’s no going back.

‘Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”’

1 Samuel 7:12

I wish I could tell you that three years ago was the last time I self-harmed, but that would be a lie. This is the anniversary of the last time I drew blood, but it was sadly more recent that I last hit myself and called myself names.

However, God is greater than the temptation to disobey Him and, step by step, I know He’s setting me free of my pain. With His help, I’m beating this. He can set you free too.

If I can help you in anyway, if I can pray for you, or answer any questions, or just give you someone to talk to about this, please don’t hesitate to email me: joyfulness5113@gmail.com.

Don’t stay where you are another minute, not when Christ died to set you free. Put your hope in Him. Come on, this could be your anniversary day too!

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About Leah Ness

I am a self-professed story addict. Ever since I was little, I've had an overactive imagination and a passion for a well-spun yarn. When I grew up, I was blessed with a passion for God as well. It was then that I noticed a relative shortage of unique Christian fiction, the kind that can both captivate you and glorify God. So, despite the hurdles of things like commas and homonyms, I am endeavoring to write some of my own. Check out my Books page for updates on current and future books. View all posts by Leah Ness

29 responses to “Three Years and Counting

  • kbailey374

    God bless you!! 3 years is a very big deal!

  • JanuarysDreamer

    Thank you for sharing. May the seeds of light you have sown bear fruit for the kingdom. And may God bless you ( and your dearly beloved helpmeet) to walk always in the light of His countenance by His Spirit and stay out of the shadows where we can no longer see His face and know how much He loves us. (Rom. 5:8)

  • Anonymous

    May your willingness in sharing this help someone who is where you were 3 years ago. Admitting to things is often the first step toward healing and victory. It defeats the shame, which keeps that part of our lives in the dark. God works in the light–and brings his peace and presence! Rejoicing with you!

    • Leah Ness

      That’s my prayer. I want my life to be a testimony of hope, in all areas, to people who are hurting. And you’re right, admitting the problem is the first step. God wants us to ask Him for help. Thank you for reading and for your encouraging feedback =)

  • ashleydfarmer

    Beautiful story, Leah! I love that your blog is about being ransomed, your book is about being ransomed, and this story shows how you are living the truth of being the one ransomed by the precious blood of Christ. I pray this message helps anyone who feels the need to hide what might be perceived as shameful or embarrassing and see that God can use those broken stories for good and for His glory. You are so brave, my friend!

    • Leah Ness

      Thank you so much =) God has been so good to me and I’m so grateful to Him for ransoming me from all that holds me captive. I love telling the stories of His grace toward me, even though that means showing how much I needed Him in the first place. Thank you so much for your sweet comment =) God bless!

  • Sue C.

    Hi Leah: Thank you so much for your honest testimony. It is so needed. I’ve known women who self harm and this has helped me to understand a little more. I will reblog this to my cyber support group blog. There are people there that it could very well help. Blessings to you as you continue your healing journey.

    • Leah Ness

      Thank you so much for the repost. This was not an easy post for me to share but the thought that it might help someone who’s fighting a similar battle made it more than worth it. I’m grateful to you for spreading the word. Thank you for reading and for your kind feedback! God bless =)

  • Sue C.

    Reblogged this on Cyber Support Group and commented:
    I pray this helps others not only to better understand the pain but how the Lord will help to overcome it.

  • Cyndi Gates

    Thank you for your bravery in sharing your story. Again, you wrote beautifully, and intelligently. I have no doubt that everyone who reads this will be touched deeply, and if they are in danger of hurting themselves, they will find hope and help in your words and testimony.

    The ground is level at the foot of the cross. Everyone needs to be Redeemed, as your life verse states so well.

    My life verse is Isaiah 54:13 which says, “All thy children shall be taught of the LORD and great shall be the peace of thy children.” Beautiful, isn’t it?

    Something to remember when the enemy tempts you to hurt yourself again. He’s trying to harm God’s prized masterpiece–you. It’s so good that you’ve found help through your hubby’s words and love, and through God’s.

    All things work together for our good (Romans 8:28) even things we can’t imagine or don’t understand. It is easy though to see how your struggles will help you become a wonderful, tender-hearted Mom some day. You will never forget what it is like to struggle, and so you will be tender-hearted to your children’s struggles. They will greatly appreciate you for that. Believe me.

    I want you to know that you are a miracle–truly a miracle created by God specifically for my son. When he was a young boy, I started praying for the woman who would become his wife. I asked God to give her certain characteristics; that she would love God, adore my son, love children, have a sweet, gentle and loving spirit and personality, and be beautiful in every way. You have more than fulfilled every expectation and hope I have every prayed. God created you so wonderfully, so perfectly. You are His masterpiece and my son’s most precious treasure. In fact, every time your name comes up in our family it is ALWAYS with praise and thanksgiving to God for bringing you into our lives.

    You did not marry into a perfect family…you only married a perfect husband, and he married a perfect wife. You two are perfect for each other, even though you both have things that God will help you to grow in–as all humans do.

    I love how you’re reaching out to help others. It is so “you” to be so kind. If there is ever a time you need to talk and my son is not around, please feel free to call me. I would never judge you for anything. You are my precious daughter and I love you so very much! And I’m very, very proud of you just as you are. Each time I read something you write I am more impressed with how perfect you are for Johnathan. God is so very, very good!

    Be blessed!

    • Leah Ness

      Thank you so much =) You’re right, your son is perfect! And I thank God every day for the honor and privilege of being his wife! Especially since that honor comes with such a wonderful mother-in-law =) Thank you so much for your love and support! Love you!

      • Cyndi Gates

        I love you too! Just a bit of a reminder; I also said that he married a perfect wife. I truly meant that dear. And you aren’t the only one who thanks God daily for your marriage. I know he does, but so do I. You are such a wonderful, loving, and wise woman. It is such a joy having you in my family! Thank you for being you!

  • Dan Ledwith

    Happy 3rd anniversary! A very special day to remember indeed! My 10 her old daughter started cutting a year ago last month. She has been cut free since July 24, 2014. I am hopeful that she will be able to celebrate a year free of that too in a few months. Thanks for sharing this.
    Grace,
    Dan

    • Leah Ness

      Thank you so much =) I’m sorry to hear about your daughter; it’s a battle I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But I’m so glad to hear her anniversary is coming up. The truth that her value and worth come from God is such an essential lesson and I pray He writes it on her heart so that she never questions it again!

  • Michelle Styles

    I am also (hopefully) now a former cutter. Our difference is I know who I hated. In June last year I cut myself by using a kitchen knife and trying to hit my heart. I missed barely by a miracle of god. It isn’t easy but you have the right drive. God is greater. Much love and please stop hurting yourself. It has been nine months almost since last I hurt myself.
    Peace and love
    Michelle
    PS I found writing helps.
    https://aghostdancer.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/lessons/ There is a whole section on cutting and my trials to stop. I’ll stick around here 🙂

    • Leah Ness

      Congratulations on your nine months! That’s definitely an accomplishment to celebrate! And yet I’m sorry that it’s a battle you even have to fight. I read your post and the powerful poem and I’m so sorry that you hurt that much. Thank you too for pointing out how our actions hurt the ones we love; it’s very true. God is indeed greater and He can and will see you to the other side of this. You’re in my thoughts and prayers! God bless!

      • Michelle Styles

        I hurt less now that god is moving actively in my life. I wandered far from him and even then he chased me yelling come back..
        He’s amazing and I am praying for you as well. You are beautiful and loved. 🙂

  • Stacy Lee Flury

    Thank you for your vulnerability is being open and honest about self-injury. There is more power in exposing it because it encourages others that you can heal from this. Blessings!

    • Leah Ness

      I didn’t want to keep the testimony of God’s goodness hidden away, so even though parts of it are difficult, I have to proclaim His goodness! Thank you so much for your encouragement =)

  • jaimieadwoa

    Hi Leah, I just wanted to say i’m very very proud of you! You’re so strong! God bless you♡

  • theprojectcross

    This is amazing! Your story will heal others.If you could others can too.Happy anniversary and may God continue to take you from strength to strength each year.Love and blessings.xx

  • adoptedbylove

    Thank you so much for your bravery and obedience to God!

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