By: Olivia Hitz

She wears long sleeves and pants during the summer. She says she’s cold, but she’s sweating under her clothes. Her best friends accept her lies without a second thought. She has successfully fooled them all, and they’ll never know the truth. Why should they care? It’s her body, her scars. She checks over her shoulder before pulling her sleeves up to wash her hands.

I know this girl. Maybe you do, too. She represents the 15-20% of teenagers and young adults who engage in self-harm. And she needs you to notice her- the sleeves, the scars, and the cry for help. And when you do notice her, she needs your help connecting with a pastor and mental health professionals to find healthy ways to cope with her anxieties.

Or maybe you’re a member of that 15-20%. If you are, I’m sure you’re hurting and feeling hopeless. But allow me to share a message of promise and hope: God still loves you, and He is going to keep on loving you during your healing process. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35, 37). The burden of self-harm may be crushing you, but Christ has already born it on the cross for you, making you a conqueror!

By dying on the cross for your sins, Christ has put an enormous value on your life! “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 19-20).

Healing from self-harm will not be easy. Satan will daily tempt you to fall back into your old habits and let shame weigh you down, but you are not alone. Confide in a close friend, family member, pastor, or counsellor, and ask them for help. God has put these people around you for a reason- to care for YOU. Pray to Him, ask for courage and guidance, and rejoice in the gifts of Word and Sacrament He freely gives each Sunday. These gifts not only bless you with forgiveness and salvation, but they also strengthen you.

Satan will tell you that you can never recover from this, and that God will never forgive you. But I have good news for you: God’s grace abounds! Romans 5:20b-21 says, “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” No matter how great your sin, God’s love is greater! Ask Him for forgiveness and know that He will keep all His promises. Participate in individual Confession and Absolution with your pastor so that he can speak God’s forgiveness to you and give you advice moving forward.

Remember, you are not alone: God is with you and so is the community He provides. You are indispensable! You are Christ’s priceless treasure, and He will leave the ninety-nine in search of you every time. No matter what you’ve done, Christ died for you. He forgives you, and He loves you. 

Word of Hope Hotline: 888-21-STORY

Self-Injury Hotline: 800-273-TALK

Crisis Text Line: text “nice” to 741741