Ministries‎ > ‎Film‎ > ‎Self Harm Project Blog‎ > ‎


posted Feb 23, 2012, 7:21 AM by Susannah Francis   [ updated Feb 23, 2012, 7:25 AM ]
By Zachary Francis

OK. So for the past few days I have been sitting here looking at pictures of cuts people have done on their arms, legs, etc trying to see what words are written on their arms. When I see the words, I log them. Words such as "ugly", "whore", "loser", "freak", and "slut" are logged repeatedly. These words, while expected, affected me in ways that surprised me. Even though I have hit myself before, it was hard not to be upset by these images. The pictures seemed unreal, strange...kind of like words that were cut into a doll. I struggled with wanting to push myself away from them...but then I remember that I used to hit myself; punch myself in the face. Is that any better? Is it any different? When my friends and family saw me hurt myself, did they feel any different? We're they thinking “Are you crazy? Don't hurt yourself. Stop that?!” I don't know about you. But when I used to hurt myself, I felt like I was all alone, that no one could understand me.

How many times have some of us said "I'm so stupid", "I can do nothing right", "I'm a loser"?  One doctor said that shame is like a fine mist. We can't see it, but we eventually get soaked. Shame is feeling things such as bad, stupid, inadequate, incapable, failure, worthless, and empty. As a kid, did you ever have someone say to you "You are so stupid", or "You are not doing that right." or "You need to stop being so emotional"? Many times we grow up and these "You are" statements become things you believe or "I am statements." For instance, instead of "You are so stupid" you think "I am so stupid." Instead of "You need to stop being so emotional", you think "I am too emotional."

In Joyce Meyer's book Beauty for Ashes, she talks about how some people have roots of abuse, shame, and guilt. With these roots, people believe "Something is wrong with me." Branches develop from this root like negativism, low self-esteem, anger, hostility, controlling, hatred, and judgment. We see God's love as conditional. In Beauty for Ashes, Joyce describes the trickledown theory of conditional love.

Jesus loves me but...
He loves me conditionally.
Therefore His love is based on performance
Therefore I have to earn His love by pleasing Him
When I do not please Him, I feel rejected
Therefore I am not able to trust other people when they say they love me. I suspect their motives or figure that they just do not know the "real" me yet.
Therefore I cannot accept love from other people. I deflect it. I try to prove that I am right---that I am NOT lovable, and that they will eventually reject me. Therefore, they usually do reject me.
Therefore, I use the world's standards (money, status, clothes, etc.) to prove to myself and others that I am VALUABLE. I need strokes and feedback from other people to prove to myself and to others that I am LOVEABLE.

On the other end, if we look at Galatians 5, there are the fruits of the spirit. Galatians 5:22 says that "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." But those are the branches. What is the root of the tree? The roots of the tree are that we feel valuable, there is no guilt, we have acceptance, and we feel unique, special. The roots of the tree have agape love…unconditional love. But do we understand it? Can we grasp what it really is?

In one of the books I read, it is said that our first glimpse of how we imagine God comes from our parents. If we have parents that seem to do anything for us, it appears that they love us unconditionally...then we can imagine a God that will love us unconditionally. But when we have parents that struggle, that seem to punish us inconsistently, that seem to yell at us when they have a bad day at work, scold us when we fail to hang up pictures the right way, tell us to be quiet when we want to tell them we got an “A” on a math test...those things make it very hard to imagine a God that can love us unconditionally. But does that mean it's less true? Just because we have never experienced something doesn't mean it can't exist. If you lived your whole life isolated in the jungle and never heard about cars or airplanes and someone told you about them, it would be hard to believe. From your perspective, how could people move around in machines or even fly through the air like birds. That would seem ridiculous. But just because it seems ridiculous, does that mean it doesn't exist? Let's assume for a moment that unconditional love does exist. And God exhibits that agape unconditional love. Now with that principle in mind, read this result given in the Joyce Meyer book Beauty for Ashes

Jesus love me, this I know
He loves me unconditionally
Therefore, His love for me is based on who He is
Therefore I have not earned His love, nor can I earn His love
Therefore, I cannot be separated from His love
Therefore, since I know that God loves me, I am able to believe that there are people who could love me too.
Therefore, I am able to trust people who genuinely love me.
Therefore, I am able to accept the love that those people give me.
Therefore, since my most basic need for love and sense of self-worth is met by God, I don't need to be "fixed" by other people.

Amazing isn't it. I believe agape love does exist. And that love is in Jesus. And though it's hard to grasp, it doesn't make it any less real.