Stuck… September 6, 2010

There are many areas of life which the church tends to avoid. These issues are too controversial, too taboo, to awkward to discuss, and so we just pretend they don’t exist. I believe the most commonly avoided of these topics is female masturbation. But only slightly less avoided is this: Never go in against a Si- wait…no…that’s not the one. Ahem. Please Excuse my Princess bride obsession. Only slight less avoided is the area of self-injury.

I’ve only heard one church sermon on self-injury. Just one, in my 20 years of church-going. I wish I could say that the message was helpful, loving, and changed my life, but sadly, ’twas not the case. The preacher used the story of the demon possessed man in Matthew 8 that cut himself with stones in the graveyard to support his theory that all self-injurers are demon-possessed. When I left the church service, the preacher smiled, and shook my hand. There was no great exorcism. Just a smile and a hand shake, and I thought to myself, “If he only knew…”

I’m a self-injurer. I have been for about five years now, and, no, dear Preacher who will remain anonymous, I am not possessed with demons. I am just stuck. I am caught between the everyday problems of life and the church that actively ignores those problems. Dear church (referring to the general, world-wide body of Christ, NOT any specific congregation), I love you, but so many of us are stuck. You act like you have a monopoly on the freedom of Christ. You put imaginary conditions and stipulations on it, and us who are stuck feel like we’ll never be able to get to it, so we turn elsewhere. Every time I am told that I only suffer from depression because I don’t have “the joy of the Lord,” I turn to cutting. Every time I am told that “reading my Bible and praying more” will make me forget a horrific incident from my past, I turn to cutting. Every time I am told not to talk about the sins I struggle with because “it’s a bad testimony,” I turn to cutting. It’s not my first choice, but when I’ve turned to the church, it wasn’t there.

I don’t know the answer to this problem. I wish I could write a post about freedom right now, but I just can’t. I’m still stuck. But, is there anyone out there stuck with me? Maybe you’re not stuck in cutting, but there are so many things out there that we get stuck in. Perhaps, together, we can push our way out. Perhaps, together, we can find an answer. I know Christ’s freedom is out there somewhere…but it’s not right here. And, I’m stuck. Right here.

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  • Heather Harris

    Sarah! I love you and I have to tell you I’m right there with you…I’ve struggled with self-injury and just self-destructive tendencies in general, such as ODing and other things, since high school, and I still struggle with it on a daily basis. If you ever need someone to talk to about it, I am definitely here for you, even if you just need to rant. And even though we can’t trust the church to be there for us when we’re weak, we CAN trust Jesus to be there no matter where we are, even when it feels like He’s miles away. He hears our cries for freedom and His heart breaks along with ours every time. I think that the freedom we can find in Christ is knowing that wherever we’re stuck or whatever it is we’re stuck in, it won’t last forever. I am constantly having to remind myself of this because I very easily forget. But to be honest the only difference between our outlook as Christ-Followers and the outlook of the rest of the world is that we have that hope to cling to and keep us pushing through the things we get stuck in along the way.

    So far, that’s all the answers I have. I hope my rambling helped even in the slightest bit. I wish there was a place we could all go to find support and understanding and help from our fellow believers in Christ and not face so much judgment and ignorance from the leadership. Believe me, I really really do…

    • Thanks! 🙂 Love, love! I do know that Christ’s freedom is always here, even when I can’t see it, but it’s still difficult to see it when all the judgment from the church tends to block it out. And rambling always helps! 🙂 I just miss being at Grace College, because it seemed like (for the most part) the one place where Christians could get together and actually act like a church- helping and loving each other, without judgment, and talking openly about our crazy problems. lol.

      • Heather Harris

        I know what you mean…I miss Grace too. The community there is definitely 1 in a million…I wish all Christian communities could be like that!!! I grew so much from being there.

  • Aaron Jamison

    I love you Sarah! I’ve been dating you now for over 2 years, and I obviously know you very well, and I (try to) understand whats going on. You’re an angel to me and many other people, no doubt. I am always here for you, I know I’m not the only one. I’m always willing to talk to you in your time of need, and I will always help you, or at least, make you forget about it for a while. You’re an amazing and an awesome woman Sarah, I love you. I’ve noticed you improve alot (in terms of the self-injuring) from when we first started dating, and I’m very proud of how far you’ve come. Keep up the good work. 🙂

    • No way I’d have come this far without you. <3

  • Brenda Martins

    After reading your post this morning, I told my husband that you are one of the most incredible women I’ve known. Ditto that feeling after reading the high school post.
    The depth and breadth of ‘joy in the Lord’ I craved when I was young could not be satisfied except through the bloody valleys of the shadow of death I went through along the way. No small comfort at the time, as it was true suffering and I felt like a failure compared to others.
    We hide way too much. You may never know how many women hiding their pain may begin to be set free by your example.

    • Thanks. This comment may have just made my life!
      And thanks for always bringing me joy! I tell people I want to be Brenda Martins when I grow up, because you just make the world a happier place!

      • Brenda Martins

        I believe that would be YOU, Sarah!…with your boundless heart full of fairy dust for us all!! <3