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posted Oct 24, 2012, 9:13 PM by Susannah Francis   [ updated Oct 25, 2012, 10:45 AM ]
By Zachary T. Francis

When asked what background someone who self-harms comes from, one might imagine it's someone who is sexually or physically abused. Nightmarish images of late night yelling matches, things being thrown against the wall, and many horrendous things that I will not mention here come to mind. Though this is often the case, what about the family that doesn't show emotion? Consider the families that say things like "You're angry but you just won't admit it.", "You know what you did, stop lying!", "Quit being so sensitive!", and "You're just lazy!"

In James 3:3-6, it says, "when we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. "

In August, we were talking with a researcher from Cornell who stated that emotional abuse sticks much longer in the brain than physical abuse. I know from personal experience, as well as from other friends and family, that much of our lives are spent trying to stop the "tape" that is always playing in our heads. Small "insignificant" words said to us in our childhood, which in this case is our rudder, change the complete course of our lives aka: the ship. And sometimes drugs, sex, cutting, over-exercising are ways to stop that tape from least temporarily.

When my father died, I didn't remember very much, but I do remember who showed up. When my wife calls me during the day, I always remember if she tells me that she loves me. On the same line, I always remember when one of my friends told me that I would never be a good writer, when a classmate told me I was fat, and when a loved one told me that I was a “momma's boy”. These "words" caused me to not write for years, to be self-conscious about my appearance, and to be "careful" about what I told my mother (a momma's boy to me was a son that told his mother everything). Now I believe Christ can remove these strongholds, but I also believe that someone can learn to self punish by being told simple phrases like "cry baby", "fat", "oversensitive", "stupid", "selfish", and "lazy". James goes on to say that the tongue is a "restless evil, full of deadly poison".

There are many thoughts that most people who self harm do it in secret. So how can we help them if we don't know who they are? When Jesus saw a woman who was committing adultery he said "neither do I condemn you" before He stated to "go and sin no more." When we see someone who is so depressed that they stop looking for a job, maybe we can first start by asking how they are doing before we call them lazy. If we see someone who promised to quit drinking sneak another bottle of beer, perhaps we can tell them the truth in love before calling them a "drunk". Or when we see a friend miss another church choir practice, we might first ask "if everything is alright" before we jump to the accusing tone of "Why weren't you there?! Don't you know that we sing in front of the church in two weeks?!" Jesus states in Matthew 15:18 that "the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart."

We need to ask the Lord to give us a forgiving heart. Allow Him to change us so that we can look at people the way Jesus looks at them. To see them as a victim of a sinful world. If we look at people from that perspective, we may be able to combat the issue of self harm without even knowing it.