Parakeets. Why do people have parakeets? They chirp. They squack. They squabble. Feathers, poop, and bird seed get everywhere. At age 8 when our family pet parakeet finally died and I asked my mom if I could dissect it. She said no and buried it in an undisclosed location. The family dog found it and dissected it herself. Around the same age, one day I walked outside to find my dad gutting a red fox in the driveway. I watched with a mix of disgust and awe as he pointed out and named the different organs. In high school I looked forward to the day that we got to dissect a cat. Part of me felt horrible because I had my own cat at home that I loved and cared for, but this was too cool of an educational experience to let sentiment get in the way. I wanted to see what was inside an animal to make it tick.
Cutting open animals was not a real popular activity in high school. I would be scared if it was! But cutting a person’s own skin had become a trend. It’s painful, it’s messy and it leaves scars, so why would anyone want to cut their own skin? You ask (or at least you should). Some teenagers use self-mutilation as a coping method for dealing with life stressors. They hide their cuts out of shame, but secretly they wish to be found out by someone who could help them. Even as a teen I knew logically cutting yourself couldn’t be beneficial, but in not knowing how to deal with depression I figured it was worth a try. Like in ancient times when physicians drained the”bad” blood of sick people thinking it would make it better. Maybe if I drained the bad out of me I would feel better. Maybe if I hurt myself on the outside I wouldn’t hurt on the inside.
I went to my dresser and dug out the set of carving knives my dad had given me. He gave them to me after I showed interest in wood carving. Neither of us would’ve imagined I’d carve myself with them. I got the rubbing alcohol out of the bathroom that my brother and I used to sanitize our acne with. I might be cutting myself but I’m not about to get any infections. With the operating table prepped I laid on my bed. Where to cut? Hmm, I’m not about to wear long sleeves for the rest of my life. That’d be too hot! My stomach. I hate my blubbery stomach anyways. I hated myself. I knew I could never be who I wanted to be. I cut. Geesh Dad, these knives aren’t very sharp. I pressed harder. I bled. The pain was disconcerting but something about the blood was satisfying. I wiped my stomach, put Neosporin on and bandaged my wounds. I took my emotional temperature- Hmm, nope. Still depressed. I must have serious mental issues. What’s wrong with me!?
Like the ancient physicians I had drained my blood only to find that I was still sick. What I didn’t fully understand was that my blood was indeed bad and that I needed pure, holy, cleansing blood. I needed Jesus’s blood. I also didn’t fully understand that it had already been done. Jesus already took the punishment for my imperfections and poured out His blood for me. I will never be perfect but He is perfect in my place.
The bloody thing about this blood business is that Christ not only died for my sins, but also your sins, and everybody else who has wronged us. What does this mean? This means that we can be freed from unforgiveness. If the Creator of the Universe who died for them can forgive them than so can we. God will hold them accountable for their sin so we don’t have to (This of course does include little people that you are raising who need boundaries and consequences). On learning about forgiveness I sought counsel from an older sister in Christ. I was advised to forget the person’s sins like God does- as far as the east is from the west. I found this painfully discouraging at my inability to do so. Then I realized she had left out one minor detail- I’m not God! If someone breaks your arm you can forgive that person but don’t let them tell you that your arms not allowed to hurt! It hurts when someone wrongs us and depending on the offense it might hurt for a long time, but God isn’t going to ask us to do something (like forgive!) and not help us do it. In the book Choosing Forgiveness by John and Paula Sanford, I found an encouraging quote:
“If we think it is up to us to accomplish forgiveness through our striving, we will never ‘get it done.’ We must understand that forgiveness comes through what the Lord Jesus Christ has already accomplished. He has taken that burden from us and though His grace we can forgive, even when by the standards of our human emotion it seems virtually impossible.”
The cuts on my stomach didn’t magically heal. I put Neosporin on it and over time they healed. When the negative thoughts come to your mind of the person(s) that wronged you- stop picking! Think about how Christ’s blood washes away sin and then you will be able to hate the sin and not the sinner. When you hurt ask God for some Neosporin. Jeremiah 8:21-22 talks about Christ being the balm of Gillead. He is our Neosporin, our tourniquet and our Ultimate Physician. “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19.
Last week a giddy lady videotaped herself opening up a talking Chewbaca mask. She put the mask on and laughed hysterically The video went viral. Why? Because she was silly? Because she was stopping to smell the carrots? (a metaphor from a previous blog) Or because there was freedom in her laughter? I watched the video and I knew she had to be a Christian (or crazy . . . or both). After that video went viral she made other videos to share the Gospel. I knew it! There was a freedom in her laugh that only Jesus can provide. It went viral because people want that freedom. They are tired of punishing themselves for not being who they think they should be.
After writing the rough draft of this blog I contemplated deleting. I mean who wants to admit they cut themselves? Not me. Then I came across a video of Chewbacca mom (Candace Payne) rock’n it out on a banjo to, “There is Power in the Blood.” Chewbacca and BLOOD? How crazy is that! I took it as confirmation to share. When you find the freedom that Candace and I have found in the power of the blood you can’t help but share. If you want that crazy laugh accept Christ’s forgiveness and forgive others and He’ll give it to you.
“We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy . . . But if we walk in the Lights as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his son, cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:4, 7
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14-15
Dear God, thank you for shedding your precious blood in my place. Help me to hate the sin but love the sinner. Give me the joy that comes from the freedom in knowing that you have made me whole.