Some people cut themselves. I burned myself with cigarettes. At the time, I was in such emotional pain that I could hardly stand it. I felt driven to make that pain physical somehow. It seemed to relieve the tension inside me.
After several years of this self-destructive behavior, complete with obvious scars on the insides of my wrists, I found a much better way to deal with the hurt.
I’d started reading Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy and was struck by this statement: “… Love supports the struggling heart until it ceases to sigh over the world and begins to unfold its wings for heaven” (p. 57).
Talk about a game changer! Up until that moment, I’d been seeing myself as a troubled young person with all sorts of emotional wounds. Because I felt totally unloved, I assumed I was unlovable.
Because I felt totally unloved, I assumed I was unlovable.
But Love, God, “supports the struggling heart,” and I felt like I certainly qualified. From this I concluded that God must love me. Wow! Suddenly I glimpsed that there was a way to feel loved—though it was different than what I expected. Previously I had been yearning for a person to love me. But the fact that God loved me meant I must be lovable. Wow again!
And with that realization began a journey that rid me of the pain that caused me to burn myself. It didn’t happen overnight; it took a couple of months. But the full healing came as I understood why I am—why everyone is—lovable.
It has everything to do with what I was learning in Christian Science about creation. God created the universe, including all of us, spiritually. And because we all express God, our divine Parent, we must include all the qualities of the creator, our Father-Mother. Since God is good, we must be good, too.
Prayer helps us exchange the false view of a damaged, out-of-control person for a clear realization that we are each God’s oh-so-dearly loved child.
Starting there in prayer helps us see that our true nature is worthy of love. And you don’t want to hurt something that is loved. Instead, it’s natural to cherish and support that goodness because it is lovable.
So what about the self-hatred that fuels self-harm? Prayer helps us exchange the false view of a stressed-out, damaged, out-of-control person for a clear realization that we are each God’s oh-so-dearly loved child. In prayer, we look to God, our divine source, for clues as to our real identity. Since God is good and includes the qualities of intelligence and beauty, so we, as God’s creation, are truly good, intelligent, and yes, even beautiful. That may seem like a stretch. But it is true. And as we feel God helping us let go of negative views of ourselves, we will more readily see our goodness.
I definitely gained a different view of myself: that I am inherently good and therefore lovable. As this fact became more apparent to me, the searing emotional pain simply disappeared. When the pain was gone, so was the reason for the burning.
So what happened to my yearning for human love? The recognition that God loves me simply filled me up. I found happiness and contentment. There was no longer a driving need to find people who would love me. But I was also amazed to see how God’s tender love for us can become evident in our lives. One way this happened for me was that I met some really good friends.
If the temptation comes to engage in some kind of self-destructive behavior, maybe ask, “Would I do this to someone I love?” That’s a wonderful reason not to do it to someone God loves—that’d be you!
P.S. All the scars are gone, too.