I put on shorts already this year.
It’s back to being cold, because that’s what New England life looks like, but that’s not noteworthy. That happens almost every year; a few warmer days, a few colder days. God must get a kick out of the prayers of sun those in Massachusetts pray for. But the real shock here–I put on shorts.
These shorts weren’t anything spectacular for anyone else. But for me, sliding into shorts is a miracle. Because for years, I didn’t. I couldn’t. Anything above the knee would show the world the damage I had done to myself while self harming.
Just writing that sentence, I cringe. Am I really okay with the whole world knowing I did this damage to my body? What does that say about my faith?
If we’re being blunt here, it says nothing about my faith now and everything about my faith then. In the darkness of my journey with self harm and self hatred. When I was actively self harming, I wasn’t searching for God. I wasn’t asking for His help. During that time I had turned my back on Jesus and Christianity. Jesus had never left me though.
I didn’t pray for a long time. I lived in this battle with the enemy who whispered lies in my ear constantly.
“You are not good enough. You will never be good enough.”
“If God loved you, He wouldn’t have let this happen to you.”
“You are worth nothing–no one could ever love you the way the Bible says Jesus did.”
These thoughts haunted me, and the only way I could seem to get them to stop was self harming. That was a lie too. Self harming didn’t stop the pain. It was me harming myself at the push of the enemy who wanted nothing more than to win my soul and destroy me in the process.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Self-harm was part of my life for years as I battled a spiritual war I was unaware of. #lightsofhope @laurenjbellows” quote=”Self-harm was part of my life for years…”]
Self-harm was part of my life for years as I battled a spiritual war I was unaware of. The enemy was so prepared and knew my weaknesses well enough to almost win my life.
One day though, in the midst of this all–as I was not only struggling with self harm but also PTSD and an eating disorder–I got a text message. God reached out to me and my at-the-time fiance through an old church and high school friend. She was inviting us to a 20 somethings group with the church we both went to youth group at.
Something pushed me (Read, God pushed me, but I only recognize that in hindsight) and Josh and I went. While there, I felt a peace I hadn’t in years. I was surrounded by people who should be judging me. I had recent cuts on my arms and legs, I was living in a relationship that was not Godly (Though it is now!), and everyone and their sister knew my story of leaving college because I was suicidal. There was no way this group would want me there or invite me back.
Yet they did.
And they did again. God brought me to a place of complete brokenness and put in my life some amazing people to convey His love through their actions.
Josh pointed out one day, “Lauren, there you smile. And you eat. If that’s what you need, let’s go to church too.” And suddenly the wayward child, who was a pretty messy individual, was back in the pristine church. Being loved on by others who truly loved the way Christ calls us to–wholly and completely.
I would love to say I never self harmed again after going to that dinner, but I did. I’m currently 4 years clean and have not since the day we became members of our church. I also haven’t taken part in any eating disorder behaviors. The urge lingered longer than that, but I had something I had lost before.
Hope. Faith. Jesus.
Sweet friends, remember this if you have been or are in a battle with self harm and self worth. Or if you simply feel broken.
[clickToTweet tweet=”God never tells us we can’t serve broken. #lightsofhope @laurenjbellows” quote=”God never tells us we can’t serve broken.”]
God never tells us we can’t serve broken.
In fact, I would argue He uses the most broken of us in the most powerful ways. Look at so many stories in the Bible. He takes the least of us, the people who are broken down and bruised, and sometimes even dead! They are raised from whatever low they are in and given new life in Christ.
Maybe you’re scared that the brokenness you have felt and scarred your body will take away from your ability to share the Gospel.
I am here to tell you that is completely untrue. Some of the greatest relationships I have forged in the confines of Christianity were created with someone who shared in my brokenness.
[clickToTweet tweet=”People do not connect to perfect. They connect to real. #lightsofhope @laurenjbellows” quote=”People do not connect to perfect. They connect to real.”]
People do not connect to perfect. They connect to real.
Serving Christ in the midst and the aftermath of your most vulnerable self shares the true depth of the Gospel. That Jesus came and died for us all. Yes, the us that are fighting to follow Him and live by His word. But also the us that were lost.
Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
That’s what will bring other hurting souls to Jesus. Not your perfect church-going record, but your brokenness they can identify with.
And friends, please: Love the way Christ has called us to, in the battles against the flesh and the enemy. Hold those struggling close. Invite them to Bible study or church on a Sunday morning.
I now run our young adult ministry and am the maid of honor in that friend’s upcoming wedding. All because one girl decided to listen to God’s push and reach out to her best friend from high school and invite her to spend time in fellowship and with Jesus.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Be proud that you are a new creation in God and those scars are the old. #lightsofhope @laurenjbellows” quote=”Be proud that you are a new creation in God and those scars are the old.”]
And wear those shorts on bright days. Be proud that you are a new creation in God and those scars are the old.
About the Author:
A long time Berkshire resident, Lauren Jane is passionate about adoption, mental health, and raising up a happy, healthy and faith-filled family. She and her husband have six kids, added through foster care, adoption, and biology. Lauren believes in sharing your soul and stories, a cup of coffee, and God’s love with everyone she comes in contact with. Find her at Bellows in the Berkshires, Facebook & Instagram.