Sunday, June 15, 2014

like a drug

Like a drug this fills me up
Gives me a buzz for one more vacant moment
and the empty ecstasy that I pursue
a false satisfaction that keeps me from You
And the guilt - it washes over
and I'm drowning in the shame
Self-indulgent, safe emotions
The elusive front that I parade
When I was about 15 I had this friend.  She came to school one day with cuts all over her forearm.  I asked her about them & she said, 'When my mum is angry with me for something, I do this.  Then she feels bad & stops yelling at me.'  
'Oh . . . cool,' I said.  'Freeeeeeaky,' I thought.
I have many positive memories of my childhood & youth but I also went through some hard times.  I responded to the chaos and conflict with fear & a sense of helplessness.  I felt like nothing was in my control.  I experienced a lot of confusion & difficult emotions.  I felt isolated in this & I didn't feel I had anyone to help me make sense of what was going on.  When I was 20, I finally found a way to manage unwanted, messy emotions. I didn't know it was a 'thing', I didn't know it had a name.  What I knew was that when I burned myself  I no longer had to feel anything.  Nothing but momentary physical pain & a neat, long  line to acknowledge it.  Sadness, anxiety, fear, shame, & anger.  All gone in the drawing of burning embers across my skin.  Other times, when I knew I should be hurting & instead just felt numb; burning myself was a way of feeling something & it brought relief.  That's messed up, right?  I mean, that is messed up. I remember flipping through the pages of a magazine while at Teachers College one day, & coming across an article on self-harm.  My friend leaned over my shoulder & glancing at the article said, 'It's really sad, eh?'  & with my heart racing like it was about to explode, I casually said, 'Yer.' and went on slowly flipping. That there was a name for what I was doing & that it was a growing issue amongst young people didn't help me.  I already knew it was not healthy.  I knew it was messed up & I was ashamed.  I didn't want anyone to know that I was so broken. 

I wanted to be better. Often I would manage months of no self-harming only to cave again as soon as the pressure came on.  During those periods when this was sometimes a daily occurrence, I had conflicting feelings of not wanting anyone to know  & longing for someone to intervene. 
Throughout this time I battled with feelings of anger towards God & a desperate desire to earn His favour.

When I was lucky enough to marry my 'first love' a few years later, I hoped it would be a fresh start.  This young couple, starting a new & beautiful life. But for all the happiness of the day & what it symbolised, it was a miserable time in my life.   I felt consumed by darkness & the belief that I had nothing to offer.  And I was burdened with guilt for joining with this person for what I would gain & most certainly not what I had to give.  I had a deep desire to see healing in my life. I also had some wonderful people supporting me during that time. I began to make progress in my thinking & I  hoped that maybe self-harming was a thing of the past. However, a couple of years later when some issues resurfaced, I fell back to that old pattern of coping.

The incentive to cease this behaviour came when I saw the way it impacted negatively on my husband.  I could no longer justify what I was doing with the idea that it wasn't hurting anyone else.  When my daughter  (who was not long speaking in sentences) touched my arm and  asked in alarm, 'Mama, what happened?' the payoff was no longer big enough.  The final time I self-harmed I felt no relief from the inner chaos & I knew that in order for it to 'work', I would need to do something much more drastic.  So, I had a choice to make; end the pain, or work through the pain.  I was not planning any hasty exit from this earth so I chose what felt like the more difficult latter. 

Recently at church, one of our pastors, Sam, shared the following story:

Luke 7 vs 36-38 - When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table.  A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.  As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

It was a horribly awkward situation for all the guests - dignified, well-respected members of the community sitting down to dinner only to have an uninvited woman with a 'bad' reputation show up and begin to make a scene.  This was an embarrassment for Simon, the host & when Jesus seemed unfazed by the situation, Simon criticized him for sitting there and allowing her to behave in this way.  This was Jesus' response:

Luke 7 vs 44-48 - Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman? I came into your house.  You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.  Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - as her great love has shown.  But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.'  Then Jesus said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.'

He then goes on to say to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.' (Luke 7 v 50)

This woman was living in shame & brokenness. She had a bad reputation & she was a mess.  But in her desperation, she brought her mess to Jesus. He saw her act of humility & surrender as beautiful & responded with love & by bringing freedom & healing to her. 

I remember one particular night, during a time when Craig was working away from home, & my two babies were asleep.  It was late and I sat on the couch alone. I had been attending counselling for a couple of months, trying to make sense of  some past experiences and trying to  wade through the subsequent  overwhelming emotions, with little progress.  My life felt like it was unravelling.  It felt like a dangerous place to be and at times I wondered if I would ever be able to find order in my thoughts again or be able to experience emotions in a normal way.  That night, I closed my eyes & just started talking to God about it - about my anger, my unforgiveness & bitterness & my shame . . .  As I sat there in the quiet I saw a picture of this place filled with light & other people covering me with clothes of light.  I felt like God was saying to me that all that 'stuff' that had previously defined me was no longer who I was.  That I was His child, this was my new identity & could start living in that. If I'm honest I think in that moment I still didn't feel His love for me but I began to believe that He loved me. 

It was a turning point. In that moment of surrender, He revealed the truth - that I was His & I didn't have to walk in that shame & brokenness anymore.  I was done with self-harming.

Acts 17 v 28  - 'For in him we live and move and have our being.’  As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring'.
The last couple of months I have been swept up in the busy-ness of life & there are changes in the air.  It's easy in these moments to become a bit unhinged, a bit ungrounded.  When life feels like it's slipping out of my control, the nightmares come again taunting and haunting.   Its  easy then for  doubts to creep in.  Slipping back to the old, familiar and forgetting momentarily, my identity.  Forgetting where I find my identity.  And seeing my broken, more than His beautiful.   

What I have realised over these last few years, and what I have been reminded of again in the last few days is that yes, I'm still living with brokenness.  I'm messed up.  Life is messy. I can't navigate my way through this alone. And honestly, I still have seasons where I struggle to trust that God is good & that He loves me.  BUT, I have experienced a genuine understanding of His love and a growing intimacy in my relationship with Him.  I find hope and cling to the fact that because I have experienced His love & His grace, I know I can come to Him with all my ugly mess & surrender it to Him.  And when I do, He gently takes that & transforms my broken into His beautiful.

Hebrews 4 vs 14-16 - Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. 

'The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.'  - Timothy Keller. 

If you want to listen to Sam's message based on the scriptures I have shared here, you can click on this link & select the Podcast 'The Source of Healing & Holiness'.


  1. Praying God blesses your willing heart. Such a beautiful lady on an amazing journey. "You suffer his correction because he sees you are worth it" -(slight paraphrasing....)

  2. I have read this, but am going to print it out to read again later. You speak to my soul - thankyou. Your honestly and rawness is a blessing - thankyou. I can identify with things. For speaking it out - thankyou.

  3. Meg, just want to say (trust it is taken with the love that's intended) I am so proud of you. God is indeed at work in your life and to read of your journey and willingness to be pm vulnerable and transparent is just a joy! You have come such a long way precious girl. Thank you for sharing. With much love, Lis xo