How Would You Offer Hope to Someone Who Is Addicted to Cutting Himself?

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

What would you say to offer hope to someone who is addicted to cutting himself?

I have not had a lot of experience, but I have had some experience with people like that. Let me give you one story. I plead marginal expertise here, OK? So don't expect me to be more than I am.

I talked to one young lady who we dealt with some years ago who would cut herself on her stomach. Some of you don't even know about this.

There's more of this going on now with boys than used to be. It used to be mainly young women, and some older. It's a phenomenon of just cutting yourself for various, strange reasons that are hard to grasp.

But anyway, I dealt with her. It happened two or three times. She would go to the emergency room, because she would cut herself bad enough to need stitches on her stomach. And I asked her one time as I went to visit her in the hospital, "Can you give me any light or help on what goes on in your head? Why are you doing this?"

And what I remember she said was, "I like it when they touch me in the emergency room."

So here's one analysis of one person—and I don't want to generalize this. Here is a woman who was overweight, and she probably felt very alone, very untouched, very unloved, very un-cared for. She watched the whole world going its way with people hugging each other and loving each other and having friends or being married. And she had this unbelievable ache in her heart to be cared for, to be pitied, to be touched and ministered to. And her unhealthy way of doing it was to hurt herself.

If you just take that one scenario (and I'm sure there are others), we have a lot to say to a person like that. We want to love them. We want to actually touch them.

I think there are many people in the world who probably haven't been hugged for ten years. I had a woman in her fifties say to me one time—she had been a widow for probably about ten years—and she said to me, "I haven't been hugged for a long time."

And it was just so revelatory for me for a moment that there are people who actually go through life—and they are good people! They're not eager to jump into bed as a prostitute or to fool around on the weekend. They know they're going to be pure—but they're not ever touched. Nobody ever touches them.

And so I thought, "Boy. God, make me a good hugger. Make me a good, clean, pure, trusted, pastoral hugger." And I'm probably not the best at it. Some people are like hugging trees, and others like hugging big panda bears. And others like hugging bean bags. Some people are just really good at hugging. And I just want to be one of those.

That's one thing we could do. We can actually, in healthy whole ways, be really all there for people.

And then she needs, desperately, Jesus to be her friend, and to have a psychological, emotional enjoyment of Christ in her life.

And so we need to minister with the word and prayer and whatever kind of counseling might be added, so that she comes to totally rest in Jesus Christ. He loves her, cares for her, and will someday provide every sensation she has ever longed for in terms of sexual life or being touched, hugged, or cared for, or for living with somebody besides a roommate or no roommate.

We shouldn't run quickly away from these people thinking, "Whoa! You are just so mega sick. I have nothing to say to you." I don't think that needs to be the case.

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