When I was in high school I thought I knew everything. When I was in college, I realized that I didn’t know everything, and I still chose to act like I did. Now that I’ve lived out in what is inappropriately labeled, the “real world” I know that there is so much that I’m mean to never know. And that comforts me and terrifies me.
As I am growing in my relationship with Christ (and I will continue to grow in my relationship in Christ–I’m so thankful that it is a never-ending process) I realize that there are so many parts of myself that I would gladly like to see go. Even in college I was terrified of my voice. I was frightened by my story. There are so many crazy experiences that I have had in my life, and so many bad things that I have seen along the way. I pushed them all down, deep inside of me.
I thought that silence was the answer. If I didn’t talk about what I had seen, then it didn’t really happen. I developed an apathy for the pain and disappointment that I discovered as life was happening around me. I buried it so deep and desolate that I thought it would never resurface.
In college it hit me like a train-wreck. I was full-force body slammed by the things that I had gone on ignoring. I never learned to properly cope with the pain that I felt. When I was younger, I took to self-injury and I knew it wasn’t the normal thing to do. But I didn’t know what normal was and I didn’t know that it was something you define for yourself. You work through life to find out what is normal for you. Yes, self-injury is a very serious issue, and with it wrecking so many years of my life I am not even trying to skate lightly over the issue, so dear ones, forgive me if you feel that way. But, I knew that self-injury wasn’t supposed to be my normal. It wasn’t something that God ever intended for me.
And it wrecked me. It was this little secret that I tried to hide. And when I did share it, it got me hurt. And when I was hurt, I did it more. So even the moment that I stepped into the water and was baptized, that didn’t just disappear. I was ashamed of this compulsion. It was more than just a surface issue. It wasn’t merely an addiction that I had to quit. It was a mentality that I had to reprogram. It was hard.
It was terrifying. It was painful. (And pain made me want to cut more!) But I knew that I had to do it. I had to do it for me, first and foremost. And in doing it for me, I could do it for the people around me. I had to kick that habit, because it made me into a skillful liar. I learned all about hiding everything from scars to tools. I could go around with a smile on my face and bandages to stop the bleeding.
Sometimes, though, I confess, that being a cutter makes me very much sympathize with Paul. I understand what it is to have a thorn in your side that you wish that God would just take away from you. He doesn’t always, though. He shows you that He can be your strength in each and every day. I know that there are times when life builds to such a high dramatic climax that I want to run back to things I consider familiar and easier to do than to handle real life.
But that isn’t an option. When I was baptized I chose to die to self.
Do I mess up? EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Do I give up? Never. Giving up has never been and will never be an option.
Today I remember taking up my cross.