What Will You Do When Cutting Yourself Doesn’t Work Anymore?

Posted on by Heidi Brunsting

By Tim Butler, Director of City Engagement and Juvenile Justice Chaplain

            “Pastor, our youth director gave me your number – he said he knew you and he told me that you have a mentoring program that can help my 13-year-old grandson who’s in jail up in Greeley.  Please call me when you can!”

When the grandmother and I talked on the phone later that evening she told me about “Peter” and all the psych wards and treatment centers he had been in the past 3 years.  The help they offered had some success, but in recent months, his destructive behavior had only escalated, and now he often threatened suicide and frequently cut himself.  Both his divorced parents had given up on him, and it’s still not clear where Peter will end up next.  

It took several weeks and many phone calls to Peter’s social worker and to the mental health therapist at the facility before I was finally authorized to see him.  During that first visit I did not press him about his behavior or his home life – asking painful and personal questions without first earning the right to do so can often “shut down” a kid like Peter. 

When Peter was escorted into the visiting room for our second visit the Friday after Easter, I noticed the fresh cuts on his left arm but waited for a few minutes into our conversation before I asked him to tell me what had happened. 

       “Peter, what’s the deal with your arm?  You didn’t have those cuts last week.”

            “I hate being here, and I hate everyone for lying to me about when I am leaving.  Everyone has given up on me, and this is the only way I know how to deal with it.”

       “Does it work?”

             “For a while.”

       “What will you do when cutting yourself doesn’t work anymore?” 

             No answer…

For the next 45 minutes Peter and I talked about what his grandmother had often told him about Jesus, and what He offered him – not just peace in knowing Christ had only good plans for him, but most importantly, the offer of forgiveness for his sins, and a life-long relationship.  When our time was up, Peter allowed me to pray for him but only Jesus knows the condition of his heart. 

Will you pray for Peter, and ask Christ to reveal Himself to him in a life-changing way?  Pray too that Peter will end up at a facility where I’ll be able to see him on a regular basis.

Thank you for being a part of the ongoing conversation with youth in our city and helping us share God’s story.  It's our honor to be the storytellers on your behalf who meet kids right where they are and give life to their story.

Providing young people in our community with the opportunity to make an informed decision to be a follower of Jesus Christ and become part of a local church.

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