One of the most difficult parts of my Christian journey has been overcoming despair. The more you have suffered in your life, the easier it can be to believe that you are a “lost cause:” that there is no hope for you. That is a lie the Enemy will use to lure you out of God’s joy and peace and back into emotional bondage. God is our anchor of hope, always pulling us back to Him if we will chose to believe His truth over the Enemy’s lies.
I had many legitimate reasons to sink into despair. I was severely abused for years as a child and struggled with intense self-loathing as a result. I did not love myself, so I did not trust anyone else’s love for me. I had an eating disorder, panic attacks, and nightly nightmares. The urge to die was “background noise” in my head for decades: I longed to die and be released from the daily struggle of living with the aftermath of the abuse.
My despair grew worse after entering therapy because I finally faced the severity of the abuse I had suffered. The intensity of my emotional pain grew so strong that even the eating disorder was no longer enough to manage it, so I turned to self-injury. I would bang my head against a pillow repeatedly (I wanted a wall) as hard as I could, to the point I gave myself whiplash at times.
People who have never self-injured are often perplexed by why someone would do it. It actually makes more sense than you might think: self-injury provides immediate relief. When the waves of pain and despair threatened to drown me, self-injuring was like flipping a switch that immediately shut it all down. In the moment, I did not feel the physical pain because I was so focused on the immediate release from the emotional pain. However, after the crisis passed, the emotional pain would return on top of the physical pain from having self-injured. This was a miserable way to live.
I have not self-injured in years because God healed the emotional pain driving the behavior. Unlike self-injury, which is a temporary fix, God’s healing runs deep and removes the pain instead of temporarily masking it. As long as you have God, you have hope. You do not have to live your life miserable if you will invite God in to heal you and cooperate with Him by doing what He tells you to do.
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace and a dog looking very sad. Courtesy Bitmoji.]