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What Self-Harm and Passover Have in Common

This post contains graphic images.

If you or someone you know are locking yourself in the bathroom and making little cuts on your sweet little thighs and arms with a razor, and, like the rest of the 17% of people in the world who are doing the same thing, and you want to stop but can’t, here is what your therapist may not tell you about cutting….

From the beginning of time, cutting the flesh has always been about transference of guilt and/or pain.

In ancient Israel, the pain and guilt associated with living in a fallen world was transferred onto a sacrificial lamb.

It has always been about moving the pain from the inside to the outside, where it doesn’t quite hurt as bad. The body is temporal; the soul is eternal. So physical pain is always more bearable than emotional pain.

And cutting the flesh has by necessity always been a ritual, to be repeated over and over and over again.

A Shiite woman self flagellates on her way to a holy city.

I say “by necessity” because, although it is not our intent, we keep on hurting or inflicting pain or guilt on each other or on ourselves.

So we need to keep transferring the pain away from where it hurts the most–the part of us capable of knowing who we are. If we are somehow made to believe we are less than who we actually are, we feel the need to punish ourselves with pain.

From punishment comes relief and a sense of justice. But it is false, and temporary. When you drag yourself back into the bathroom with a razor, you drag your soul back into the courtroom to answer the same old verdict:

You aren’t good enough.

Skinny enough.

Smart enough.

Pretty enough.

Popular enough.

Wise enough.

Strong enough.

Loved enough.

“You aren’t loved enough.”

That lie, like a knife, cuts deeper and inflicts more pain into the human soul than any razor on skin. It’s no wonder, the need to keep cutting and cutting and cutting, hoping it will eventually match and overcome real pain.  

Self-flagellation, self injury–it has always been a tragic, hopeless, vicious cycle.

But what if there was a way to permanently transfer your guilt or pain? What if the object of that flesh-cutting ritual was not an animal who dies and is consumed by the fire, leaving the need to keep remembering the guilt and transfer it all over again onto another sacrificial lamb….

Or what if the object of that flesh-cutting ritual was also not that person in the mirror, who wants to die and is consumed by the painful lie she keeps believing about herself….

What if… just what if…

…the object of that pain and guilt was someone who thinks you are, in fact, enough?

And who wants you to know it? Wants you to know it so desperately, in fact, that he’d do anything to prove it? Anything.

Like, let you cut his flesh instead.

Oh, you’d never do that, you say. But we did, and we do.

There was a lash for every time we have rejected his invitation to be loved without condition, “just as we are.”

Only one person has ever and will ever be able to love you enough. It can only be the one who made you, and who knows who you are.

He became unrecognizable so you can see your true self. Know how unspeakably valuable you are. This is true beauty.

He bears the scars that prove you don’t need to create your own.

The great transfer has already been made. It laid him in the very grave you wish for yourself. But he overcame it.

Only one love is powerful enough to conquer death and cutting. It’s the Love whose flesh was cut to death for you.

Tonight Jewish friends feast at the Passover table of celebration, remembering the night the Death Angel “passed over” the homes of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt who’d painted the blood of sacrificial lambs on their doorposts. The dark angel had been sent to bring judgment on their oppressors. But it could not come near the homes where the blood of the lamb was applied.

You, given to self-harm… maybe it’s time to keep your own kind of Passover. The shedding of your own blood has been an attempt to keep the Death Angel at bay, but it keeps returning, keeps banging on that weakening door, calling you to give up. Its dirt-encrusted fingernails slip between the crack in that door, wanting to claw the life out of you.

You need a better way, dear one. Your attempts at self-atonement have only invited the Death Angel back. Satan is quite at home with religion or any ritual void of fulfillment. This is what religion does–it foreshadows the meaning of life, but that is all; it doesn’t give meaning to life. We can feast all we want but will never be fulfilled until we’re filled with Him. 

Jesus is the meaning of the Passover lamb. 

What if, next time that dark angel comes knocking, he is greeted at the door with a new and everlasting Blood? One that cries out, “No more! She is mine. I bought her with my life, paid for her with my blood.”

That, my dear, sends the devil running in fright. The Cross was where he lost for good, and doesn’t want you to know it. Hates for you to think about the stripes on God’s back. Will do anything to keep you from that scarred Lamb of God.

Because there you will find a new identity (isn’t that what this is all about)? No longer








Oh no. Those days will be gone.

The fading, healing scars on your skin could testify of a new name.




Purchased with Blood





A salvation prayer for you to pray (or something like this; make it your own): Dear God, I need you to forgive me for committing the ultimate sin–rejecting your love for Me. I had no idea. I tried to be my own savior by thinking that loving myself was enough. Then I ended up cutting myself. How ironic. I am starting to understand what loves means. It has to look like something. Love has to act like something, like God dying on a cross just to show me how much he loves me. I’m trying to wrap my mind around that. It will probably take a while. But for now, I believe in my heart that you are my Savior. I have sinned in running from you all my life. I confess I need you desperately. I believe you came back to life after the grave, and you are here for me. Jesus, My Savior. My Lord and Master. I am no longer enslaved by the oppressing power of sin and death. I now live to serve you. And in that, I am finally, truly, free.

(Note:  As a minister my primary emphasis is on a person’s spiritual well-being while encouraging them to pay attention to their total selves: mind, emotions, soul and body. So listen to your doctor, your dietitian, your personal trainer, your therapist, and your pastor. Each contributes to your whole well-being. If  you  are on medication, treat it as a safety net to keep in place as you learn the deeper causes of your “falling.” Many people, in doing so, have come to the place of no longer needing medication. Your therapist is the one who can make that assessment.)

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