By: Steve Shirley
During the time that this ministry was in chat rooms online, I became aware of a very disturbing and growing trend (almost exclusively amongst women) called "cutting." Frankly, I was unaware that this is as big of a problem as it is. Because of my limited knowledge on this subject, I set out to study and see what I could find on it. There are thousands of articles online dealing with this subject. However, as I read through article after article to gain understanding of what caused this and how to attempt to overcome it, I sadly noticed one thing missing, the most important thing in overcoming ANY problem in life, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a desire to live a Bible based lifestyle. In this article, I will try and give some of these Bible based solutions along with some advice that former cutters have said helped them overcome. Prayerfully, these can help you if you are struggling with this problem.
When I was in high school, one of my best friends used to carve all kinds of designs into his skin with a sharp instrument. I never really understood why he did that at the time, but he was always doing things that were a little off the wall, so I didn't really think much about it. When I look back now years later at the things he did when we were friends, there were many other signs of a troubled life as well that I didn't see, and his cutting was just one symptom of a bigger problem. After high school, I headed off to college in another state and he moved to another city, and we only saw each other a few times after that. Sadly... one night I got a call telling me he had killed himself... It was not until years later that I surrendered my life to Christ, but one of the things that really bothered me after I did was, what if I had just surrendered my life earlier? I might have been able to share with him the hope of Jesus Christ and he might be alive today.
In most studies, the statistics seem to say that there is a very low correlation between cutting and suicidal tendencies. I don't know if this is true or not, but I do know one thing for sure, cutting is the sign of an inner crisis and a cry for help.
Why do people cut themselves?
It appears that people who cut have often had a childhood where they experienced physical or sexual abuse. In addition, they may have grown up in an atmosphere where they were either not allowed to express emotion or had no one to share problems with. Most cutters also seem to be more sensitive, impulsive, and hurt by rejection than the average person.
The result of these troubled childhoods is teenagers or adults who often have a lack of self-esteem. This lack of self-esteem is manifested in different ways. There is a tendency towards anger, anxiety, depression, irritability, avoidance, and mood swings. Often, there is also a problem with overeating, drugs, alcohol, or promiscuity. Many also have trouble forming and maintaining healthy relationships.
Cutting comes about as a way to deal with these problems. Most cutters seem to feel a sense of relief or escape when they cut. It appears to give them a sense of control over their lives, their emotions, and their moods. Many appear to cut in order to "feel" something and show they are still able to feel. On the other hand, others say they feel nothing when they cut. It can also be a form of self-punishment for "messing up again."
It is crucial to understand that cutting is an addiction and it should be handled from that standpoint. I read that according to some doctors, it can be one of the most difficult addictions to treat. In reading a number of testimonials, it was said that even after overcoming and gaining victory over the need to cut, the cutters still found themselves with a desire to cut years after overcoming, when confronted with a situation similar to the one that used to cause them to cut. This is a classic sign of any addiction, be it alcohol, drugs, sexual, cutting, etc... It is a way people use to cope with problems or deal with stress and anxiety. The key to overcoming is to find acceptable and healthy ways to deal with these problems instead of destructive and harmful ways.
Ok... now let's look at some ways to overcome this problem.
#1. A life surrendered to Christ
I freely admit that plenty of people overcome addictions without Christ. However, the Bible clearly tells us that when a person surrenders to Christ, he or she becomes a child of God, and God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, comes to live inside that person. The Holy Spirit gives us power to overcome anything. He guides us, teaches us, comforts us, and strengthens us among many other things. When we don't have Christ, we don't have the power of God helping us. I simply ask you this, do you believe it would be easier to overcome with God's help or without it? Friend, if you have never made a decision to confess you are a sinner, repent of your sins, and go in a new way with your life trusting in Jesus and surrendering your life to Him, I ask you to please go to our Plan Of Salvation link to see how you can do so today.
I have a degree in psychology. One of the things you learn in psychology is to try and find the cause of a problem so you can understand the behavior. What you usually find out is that some person is behind the problem or behavior, be it father, mother, sibling, relative, peer, etc... You are then able to place the blame on them for the actions instead of the person doing them. We see people do this all the time in everyday life. How often do we hear, "It's not MY fault?" What the Bible teaches, in contrast to psychology, is that we accept blame for our own actions in spite of our past. While others may have hurt us, each of us is accountable for our actions and we will one day stand before God to give an account for what WE did and we won't be able to blame it on someone else. Where I am going with this is, in every case I have dealt with, there is a root of unforgivenss attached somewhere in the past. I do not believe that we need to dig through all kinds of painful memories in the past and bring them back into remembrance to deal with them. We simply need to realize who caused us harm in the past that led to these harmful actions and we need to do one thing: forgive them...
I deal with the issue of forgiving others in depth in another place on this site and I ask you to please read that. Briefly though, unforgiveness eats you up inside. Ultimately, it harms you much more that the person who hurt you. Bitterness and resentment grow more and more over time if you allow it to fester inside of you. Unforgiveness gives Satan a stronghold in our lives and hinders our relationship with God. Unforgiveness is sin, and sin separates us from close fellowship with God. God commands us to forgive (Mt 18:21-22)(Eph 4:31-32). Friend, please obey God's command to forgive, and free yourself from the pain and burden of unforgiveness.
It is also important to forgive one other person, yourself... The Bible says that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn 1:9). Condemnation for sin is not from God. When we confess our sins, God removes them as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12). Unforgiveness towards yourself is sin, and it needs to be confessed and removed from your life. God loves each of us unconditionally, in spite of what we do, and we should love our neighbors as OURSELVES (Mt 19:19)(Mt 22:39).
I cannot stress enough the importance of being a part of a good Bible believing and preaching church. The old saying goes that church is a hospital for sinners. We need to be a part of a group of Christian brothers and sisters who will support us, comfort us, and help us in our trials. The Bible says that we are to bear one another's burdens (Gal 6:2). Accountability means that we find several people who we can intimately share our problems with and who can hold us accountable for our actions. This does not need to be, nor should it be, a large group of people in the church, but rather, a few people you feel comfortable with and trust. God never meant for us to undergo trials alone. Even Jesus had a small group of people whom He confided in and who supported Him in His ministry. If you find that someone you have shared with doesn't understand your problem or isn't as supportive as you would like, DON'T GIVE UP! Keep trying, there ARE people who will help. Pray for God to lead you to them. I also recommend seeing if there are any churches in your area that have Christian based support groups for people dealing with addictive behaviors. There are many churches that offer this kind of support.
Accountability also works two ways. There is nothing more satisfying and fulfilling than being able to help others. It is a wonderful thing to be there for someone else and know that you are comforting them and they can rely on you for support. If you are feeling down, one of the greatest ways to feel better is to take your mind off of yourself and your problems and help someone else overcome theirs.
Prayer is an awesome privilege we have to come to our Father in Heaven with any need, at any time, and He is there to listen and help. When we have Jesus in our lives, we have the power of His name to ask for help. Jesus tells us to pray in His name and it will be done (Jn 14:13-14)(Jn 15:16)(Jn 16:26). The Bible also tells us that the Spirit helps us to pray in our infirmities and makes intercession for us (Rom 8:26-27). We need the power of the Holy Spirit in us that comes with a life surrendered to Christ. Some other key things the Bible says about overcoming prayer are:
Is any among you afflicted? let him pray ... (Jas 5:13)
If we are sick we are to call for the elders to pray for us (Jas 5:14-15)
We should be persistent in prayer (Lk 18:1-8)(Lk 11:5-13)
We should pray without ceasing (1 Th 5:17)(Eph 6:18)
We should ask, believing we will receive (Mt 21:22)(Jn 15:7)(Mt 7:7)
#5. Advice from other cutters (not Bible based)
Former cutters seem to agree that one of the keys to overcoming is finding better ways to deal with intense feelings when problems come. Among the ways they recommend to do this is: keeping a journal as an outlet, exercising, or getting a pet to comfort you. Another thing they recommended is taking a step in the right direction by doing something that is less destructive, when you feel the need to cut, that still produces a strong sensation such as: taking a cold shower, putting your hands in ice water, biting into a hot pepper, etc... Doing these things can also lessen the guilt that is often felt afterwards.
#6. Seek medical care
God has given us physicians to heal our sicknesses. There may be a need to seek medical help for your cutting. I strongly suggest finding a Christian doctor who trusts in the Lord for guidance. I am not a big advocate for medication (as it is clearly overused as a solution) but there may be biological problems that can only be cured by medication.
I would also like to add a word here for those who have a loved one who is cutting. What the person who is cutting needs is unconditional love and support. As stated above, often one of the reasons people cut is because earlier in their lives they did not have anyone to share their problems with or lean on when trials came. It is important for them to know that they can come to you anytime and that you will not attack or condemn them, but listen to them and support them. If you condemn or punish the behavior, it will only cause them to seek relief in the way they deal with problems, by cutting... If you are a Christian, you may be able to share some of the Biblical solutions we have outlined. Share the love of Jesus. He loves them unconditionally and gave His life for them. (Ps 46:1) God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
I would like to end by praying for those of you who are cutting.
I thank you for each cutter that you have sent here who is seeking help to overcome this problem in their life. I pray that you will help each person who does not know Jesus as their Savior to surrender their life to Him today. Help and guide every person who struggles with this problem to find the help they need. For those who are struggling with unforgiveness towards themselves or someone who hurt them in the past, please help them to release this anger and bitterness and not harbor these destructive feelings. Please send loving people into their lives that can comfort and support them and be there for them any time help is needed. I ask that each cutter would find a strong Bible preaching church that can help them to grow in the knowledge of your word and your immense love for them. If medical care is needed, please guide each cutter to a physician that loves you and seeks your guidance in how to help. Thank you Lord for loving each and every one of us and we thank you for your promises to help us in all our trials through the blood of Jesus, by whose stripes we are healed. I pray this in agreement with each and every person who prays this prayer. We pray and ask these things in the power of Jesus precious name, Amen.