To the Woman Who Wants to Self-Harm

You were bought with a price. Blood has been shed for you, beloved. Please don’t spill your own.

You’ve been here before, haven’t you?

The swoon of an edge meant to flay? The pin in the wall, the staple in the gun, the dashboard lighter primed for a brand? When control escapes you and thoughts berate you, where else does the fury go but here?

But nobody really understands.

Just a tiny cut here, and maybe one over there. Soon the lines interweave, don’t they? First resistance, then rush; adrenaline beats through skin red and exposed. The relief brings a momentary peace, a manufactured calm.

But as soon as it comes, it is gone.

Yes, you know this dark passenger well — a hidden thorn in the flesh, buried deep in your loneliness. Locked away in your anger, he lies dormant until the ground starts to quake. In duress, the parasitic passenger rouses himself to destroy his suffering host. He stands tall to hiss wicked taunts. “But there’s no other way you can cope.”

So, you pull out the sharp blade, or light up the coils, or glance at the smooth razor’s edge.

“Did it hurt all that much before?” My, how quickly he helps you forget. “Yet, what of it? Just one layer deeper — finally reach where things went oh so wrong.”

But there’s Someone else calling your name.

Beloved, Lay Your Weapon Down

“Beloved, lay your weapon down, for you are not your own. You have been bought with a price.”

 

“Put your sword back into its place” (Matthew 26:52).

Did you hear what Jesus just said? How he knew you were walking the wire? On one side: red blood. The other: black death. How he cares if you sway either way? Traversing the mire, he seeks to redeem all he has created. He stands tall to guide wandering sheep, “I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

His call sings of hope — something larger than life. “Beloved, lay your weapon down.” But the line still remains to be walked, armed or not. The allure of the cut pounds your chest like a wave; the dark passenger still fights for the helm. You shake your head to fend off the pull, locking eyes with the Christ at your side. His hands bearing scars, pierced for times such as this, that he might hold your feet firm to the line.

“I have paid the price to set you free” (Isaiah 44:22, NLT).

Holy liberty rings grace aloud in your ears. Its tune stays your hand from the bleed. “Bought with a price” is what the Lord said. “In your body, now glorify me” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

Bought with Another’s Blood

I know this desperate darkness well — it plays out every time I sink into despondency. A strangely violent temptation, but certainly not one beyond the reach of God’s grace. After seventeen years of fighting this dark passenger, I am sure of this: only an invitation from the mouth of God is able to disarm me completely.

Beloved, lay your weapon down, for you are not your own. You have been bought with a price.

These words bear the mark of eternal love — of divine romance fixed before time began. They remind me that I’m no longer enslaved to the bonds of self-harm; that the rejection I feel, and the anger I carry, is meant to be surrendered at the foot of the cross.

Bought with a price to know what real freedom is.

“You will never find healing in wounds you inflict upon yourself.”

For those who walk the line between red and black, Jesus invites you to put down your weapons of self-inflicted vandalism. He sees the scars on your skin and the darkness in your heart, and still he calls you by name. The love you crave in the carve, he lavishes freely. The acceptance you desire through the cut, he gives without cost. In Christ, you’re not weighed and found wanting, but loved and made righteous by a blood that is not your own.

Blood of True Peace

The dark passenger would have you forget this vital truth: you have access to peace by the blood of Another. Christ’s flesh was torn to pour life into us. Would you cut yourself to drain it out? The release of the tension in your heart fades faster than a match. The true and better blood of everlasting peace drips only from a Love who was slain:

He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

You will never find healing in wounds you inflict upon yourself. They promise remedy, but instead bleed the life from your veins. The devil’s bloodlust will forever demand more and deeper from you. The tender hands of Jesus pull us toward himself, that we would lay down our weapon of choice and find ourselves satisfied by belonging to him.

Peace through the blood of his wounds, not yours.

Hands of Redemption

His invitation then leads to reassignment: so glorify God in your body. Through Christ, hands that have cut are redeemed to be hands that bring glory to his name. You were bought with a price to be Christ’s body.

“Our hands are no longer weapons of self-destruction, but instruments in the Redeemer’s hands.”

Your scarred flesh has been grafted into the wounds of the risen Lord (Romans 11:17). Your body: a holy temple, sealed by the Spirit who resides within (Ephesians 1:13). Your hands: no longer weapons of self-destruction, but instruments in the Redeemer’s hands, meant now to glorify God with every move.

Your hands are now in the hands of the Healer.

“Make for yourself a dwelling place in his blessed wounds,” as Thomas à Kempis wrote. Find rest in his holy affliction, and not your own. Lay your weapons down at the feet of him who is our perpetual peace. Beloved, find every ecstasy in Christ’s call of your name.

“You are mine!”

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This article originally appeared at Desiring God.

Christine Chappell
Christine M. Chappell is a wife, mother of three, and the author of "Clean Home, Messy Heart: Promises of Renewal, Hope, and Change for Overwhelmed Moms." A former business owner and marketing trainer, she now balances home life with raising children and growing in Christ. Christine has a deep passion for ministry of the Word to women–desiring to bring God's Word to bear on spiritual and emotional battles such as panic, fear, depression, anger, and anxiety. Her personal blog is faithfulsparrow.com and she can be found on Facebook (Facebook.com/cleanhomemessyheart) and Instagram (@christinemchappell).  

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