I was 13 when I first started cutting myself. Something just rang in my head that inflicting pain on myself would help me to relieve stress and be happy.
I was a sensitive kid and had frequent mood swings during my Primary School days, which strained my relationships with others. Things took a turn for the worse in Secondary 1 when I was placed in a school where I knew no one at all. I didn’t have friends.
Then the thought of hurting myself came.
Initially, they were really small and light cuts, and I quickly stopped. But as time progressed, my relationships with people got worse. I got into fights and often cried for no reason. I also started experiencing panic attacks. And so I turned to self-harm once again.
My self-esteem, self-worth, and self-image plummeted. It led me to my first suicide attempt of many. Since then, self-harm became a way for me to cope … To make me feel alive.
Sometimes I didn’t even know what made me pick up that blade, but when the voices in your head surround you on every side, you can’t think. Before I knew it, I had relapsed and harmed myself again.
Last year at church camp, during our time alone with God, He revealed to me the labels that I or other people had stuck on myself, from being unloved, unwanted and useless, to “the girl that cuts herself”. Hearing those labels hurt, but strangely I felt that they were very much a part of my identity. They made me feel as though I was at least something.
As I journaled my thoughts, it felt like God started slowly peeling these labels off me, telling me that I was loved. My heartbeat fastened and my chest tightened at this. I felt pain. But His words kept coming to me like waves – “Jolyn, you are loved.”
He loved me so much, He’d died for me. But I was still doubtful. I was so lost. I did trust that love, but only with half of my heart.
It felt like God started slowly peeling these labels off me, telling me that I was loved.
I looked down at the scars on my wrists, and I felt like I didn’t deserve God’s love at all. I was a Christian yet my life was a mess, I told Him. How could He still love me if He sees everything? I was not worthy.
So I made a bargain with Him on the spot. If He really loved me, then send someone to tell me that He loves me. I wanted a physical confirmation from people around me, and not just what I thought I heard from God because it could’ve been just my imagination.
Shortly after, a friend of mine – who knew nothing of what happened – came up to me. She hugged me and told me this: “God loves you.”
God loves me.
At that moment, I felt that pain in my heart again. Why was I feeling this way? Who was I? Despite the confusion I was feeling, I decided to muster up all the strength I had to praise and worship that night. I probably didn’t break out of my labels immediately, but as I sang unto Him, I could feel Him pouring joy and love into me.
I knew that it wasn’t a normal kind of happiness and lightness of being, but a joy that was rooted and sustaining. And it was a love that looked like a man on the Cross; a love that will never run dry.
Although I still struggle with the labels that are placed on me, I know above all that I am God’s child. It’s not easy to prevent these labels from sticking, but I believe that God is slowly but surely doing something.
Now when I look at the scars on my wrists, I remember the man with the nail-scarred hands. The man who died in my place, who was wounded so that I would never have to be. He too, had a label, one nailed above his Cross: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.
This is a submission from a participant of our Greater Love Giveaway. From now till the end of March 2018, we are giving away a pack of limited edition Thir.st “Greater Love” Stickers in exchange for every story. Stories must have a personal/local angle and be of 800-1000 words. Send us yours here.