I have struggled with self-harm for about 5 years now. My depression often took me to dark places where I thought the only relief would come from sinning my way to feeling anything. But today is a day that I’ve waited 5 years for. Today I am celebrating 1 year clean from self-harm. Self-harm hurt my relationship with God much like how it hurt my physical body. It started small, but I got to a place where I couldn’t tell if what I was doing was sinning anymore because I wasn’t hurting anyone except for me. But one of the times when I was trying to quit, I was looking for scriptures to help me develop a conviction around the subject and I looked in 1 Corinthians:
“Don’t you know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? If anyone ruins God’s sanctuary, God will ruin him; for God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.” // 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
“‘Everything is permissible for me’ but not everything is helpful. ‘Everything is permissible for me’ but I will not be brought under the control of anything.” // 1 Corinthians 6:12
“Do you not know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body.” // 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
I started to cry when I read these scriptures because my heart had gotten so hard that I forgot that my sin hurt God. He sent Jesus to the cross so that I could have a relationship with Him. So that I could be free from the enslavement of sin. And at that point in my life, I felt like I was a slave to self-harm. I needed to remember that God loved me and that my body was His sanctuary for the Holy Spirit. I needed to take care of my body because God had set me apart to carry His Spirit. But it was difficult. It was hard to let go of the coping mechanism I had used for years. I had to be open and honest with the sisters in my life, so that they could help me to stop the cycle of sin I was in. The more open I was, the more I let the sisters be there for me in my time of need, the easier things got. I wasn’t perfect at this and I’m still not perfect at being open, but I know that it helps me to grow in my relationship with God and to break the cycle of sin in my life. I want to leave you with two scriptures that have helped me in my journey with depression and self-harm.
“Be careful that you do not turn to iniquity, for that is why you have been tested by affliction.” // Job 36:21
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.” // 1 Corinthians 10:13
Job’s story gives me comfort. As a man who went through so much suffering, and often felt ways that I do at times, I love that he goes back to God in the end. This same quality can be seen in Lamentations and in Jesus when he prays in the garden of Gethsemane. Also, 1 Corinthians 10:13 gives me comfort because it reminds me and promises me that there will always be another choice for me than to sin. I hope that my story can help anyone who has struggled with self-harm or depression. I’ll be praying for you guys.
- grace caraway