My pastor preached on John 15 last Sunday, and if there is any chapter that I identify with the most in scripture, it’s this one. Pruning is harsh, and it really hurts when it happens to you, especially when you don’t want the pruning to happen in the first place.
The things of our past make up who we are today. Even the bad stuff, and that’s what I hate. I don’t want the bad stuff to stay with me, and I realize I shouldn’t. I know I need to let it go, and most of the bad stuff I have. But I have some major battle wounds I’m not sure will ever go away. Some of them resulted in God doing a lot of pruning in my life, and it’s those times of pruning that left me with some wounds.
I have a scar on the lower part of my neck, under my chin. How I got it is a really stupid story, so I won’t bore you with the details. It happened about 6 years ago, and though the scar has faded over time, it’s still visible (and reminds me of my own stupidity, which you would understand if I told you the story… but as I said, I’m not going to. Not that I have any problem blogging about my embarrassing moments). And in reflecting on last week’s sermon on pruning, I got to thinking about wounded people – emotionally wounded – and the long term affects wounds can have in our lives. They say “time heals all wounds” but isn’t it more like the scar on my neck? It fades over time, but may never go away?
There are many people with deep, deep emotional scars that have overcome to live happy and even fulfilling lives… and I’m envious of those people. I have too many scars I’ve been unable to get past.
They are deeply-rooted in my heart. They are quite comfortable in the dark corners of my mind. They’ve been there a while and for some reason, I’m unable to let God heal them for me.
If you skipped over the video to this sentence, please take the time to watch it. It’s a little over 5 minutes, but it’s important to the rest of my post.
Although I wasn’t a cutter as a young woman, I did find other ways to physically hurt myself. And as I contemplate and write about pruning, wounds, and scars I realize I cannot ignore this part of my life. I’m past it – it has not had a huge long-term affect on me, because the despair that cutters feel is so much darker and deeper than mine. But the feelings that caused it all? Sometimes come back. And it tends to affect my everyday life. I’m overly sensitive to rejection, I’m moody, I’m extremely guarded… just to name a few. It’s immature of me to blame my behavior on my scars; I know this. I do consider myself a work in progress, so I know I don’t have to be perfect. But I also know that I haven’t allowed God to heal that part of my life yet.
To Write Love On Her Arms is an organization committed to helping young people who struggle with depression and cutting. They travel around with mostly Christian hard rock acts, and talk about these issues to the audience between sets. I discovered their cause about four months ago, and reading the stories of the people they’ve helped brought up a lot of memories from my childhood. Here are some quotes from their website to give you an idea of who they are:
It is estimated that 15% or roughly 17 million Americans suffer from depression.
They do not recognize the illness, and see it as a weakness or personality flaw.
Untreated depression is the most common cause of suicide.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people.
Depression is treatable.
Cutting was very much a mystery until 1996 when Princess Diana admitted that she had struggled with it.
Self Injurers use physical pain as an attempt to calm or numb the psychological pain or stress. They injure the outside in an attempt to release the pain on the inside.
Self Injury is an attempt to stop the hurting, an attempt to be clean.
Self injurers believe pain is their only option, using greater external pain as a relief from the pain inside.
There is hope.
I suppose recognizing my inability to let God heal me is the first step in recovery. Restoration is a big deal to me, as you may remember. Now it’s time for me to stop ignoring the restoration that needs to take place on the scars deeply-rooted in my heart.