For Students: I Struggle!!!

Share with friends, you never know who might need to hear this!

We all struggle with things. Some are huge and complicated while others are minor in comparison.  When I was younger I used to stutter. I remember times when I would have to say my Easter speech in front of people or even just talk to friends and it would take such a toll on me.  I would pray that I would never have to say anything that would cause me to stutter just because of the  pure embarrassment it brought me.  Sometimes I would want to jump into conversations so badly but I didn’t because I was afraid I would stutter.

I remember a time when I was in a fundraising wedding and I played the part of  the groom.  I was super excited until I was handed what I had to say.  It felt like I had swallowed a dumbbell and it hit the bottom of my stomach.  There was no more excitement and for the next 3 or so months I obsessed over this one word “PLEDGE”.  It hurts to even write it…haha.   I started brainstorming ideas on what to do about this word.  I figured maybe I could change the word to something that I could say without stuttering, but  no other words fit that I felt comfortable saying.  Also, I knew I would have been asked why I wanted to change the word and that would’ve been too embarrassing.  I even thought about not doing the part, but I liked the girl who was playing the bride so I couldn’t do that.  So I went on a quest to conquer saying this word.

Just to give you an idea how bad my stuttering was, I would be in tears if I had to get up and say anything in front of people.  My heart would pound so loud I could hear it and see it coming through my shirt. That’s how crazy it was.  So on to my quest to say this word. I would say the word to myself all day long and then find ways to bring it up in conversations with friends.  I don’t know how, but I could feel the stutter coming on before I would say the word.  For some crazy reason I would be in a great conversation and go to use the word and I would feel the stutter coming up. So I would immediately stop myself from saying it.  This thing was a huge struggle for me.

Finally, I was exhausted at trying so many things and failing miserably that I decided to pray and leave it in God’s hands.  I did and he came through.  When I got to the pledge part I said it!

The first thing that came to my mind was “why didn’t I do that in the first place?”. Life would’ve been so much easier had I made the choice to give it to God first.  Although my struggle wasn’t something I was causing upon myself, the same formula applies.  This is because whether you are causing the struggles or not,  just as much damage  can be done if it’s not handled right.  Maybe you’ve been struggling with something personal and it has consumed you.  It makes you do the very opposite of what you want to do.  You’ve been on a quest to stop and have failed many times.  In your mind you’re thinking “I should be able to stop this”, but you can’t and it’s causing you guilt and shame.  Here are a few things I’ve learned looking back at my struggles and how I overcame them.

  1. I had to admit that I was struggling.  I released the power of the struggle by confessing it to God and someone else (parent, church leader, accountability partner, trusted friend).
  2. I CANNOT fix myself. I have to understand that I am broken and so all of my solutions are flawed. That’s why Proverbs 3:5 talks about us not trusting in our own wisdom but trusting in God.
  3. Give it to God.-Don’t Wait!!! Make God your first option. 1Peter 5:7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
  4. I had to seek Godly Counsel.  I needed to go to someone who trusted in God with their own life.  I needed someone who understood that they needed to give me the advice God wanted me to hear. Proverbs 11:14
  5. Be a doer and not just a hearer. Follow God’s plan of freedom for your life in the areas that you struggle.

I can’t tell you how many times during the course of my life that I’ve had to follow these steps.  I can honestly tell you that it works.  One of my favorite verses John 10:10  talks about how Christ came that we would have an abundant life.  I believe that the fact God wants to help us with our struggles and worries is the abundant life!

hope it helps


There’s Help!!!

The reason for this post is to kind-of educate those of you who know someone that is causing themselves harm.  A self-injurer is someone who afflicts pain on themselves in hopes of releasing some emotional pain that has been caused by an extreme case of abuse, neglect, abandonment, deadness, betrayal. The most common type of self-injury is cutting, burning, and head-banging. Other forms are:

  • carving
  • branding
  • scratching
  • hair pulling
  • biting
  • hitting

It is not an attempt to merely get attention, it’s deeper than that and needs the appropriate attention. If you have a friend that is doing this, I would encourage you to talk with them about getting help.  This does not have to be and there is help available.  I’m definitely praying for those of you who are going to take the challenge of having a conversation that may not be easy to have.  Although this is a super short post, the subject is huge! My prayer is that students would reach out and get the help they need.  The first step is for them to reach out and tell someone either a parent, small group leader, teacher, pastor, coach or even a friend’s parent. If need be you can email me at

You may not need this and you may not even know someone who does, but self-injure is affecting all types of people.  The people you do know might be self-injuring themselves and you are not aware of it.  I would love for you to re-post this for those who may need to see it.

More info: Students Who Self-Injure


Students Who Self-Injure

I recently went to a class taught by Marv Penner on students who self-injure.  He taught us out of his book Helping Kids Who Self-Injure.  As this becomes more of a common issue in the lives of students, we as youth ministers need to be above the curve on this one.  So I took some notes and thought I would share them with you.  I would encourage you to get all the information you can on this topic. Click on the title of his book to get more info on what you will learn in this post.  The more you know about it the more comfortable and confident you will be in facing this issue.  I hope this helps.

Self-Injury Facts

  • 1 in 5 young women and 1 in 7 young men were found to have self-injured themselves for the purpose of emotional management. (Princeton/Cornell)
  • The average self-injurer starts at the age 14 and continues with increasing severity into his/her 20’s.

Notes: They are actually finding out that students are starting out as young as middle school.

What is Self-Injury?

  • It’s listed in the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association as a Borderline Personality Disorder Symptom.
  • Self-harm is a response to a profound and overwhelming emotional pain that cannot be resolved in a more functional way.

What Self-Injury is not!

  • Self-Injury is not a half-hearted attempt at suicide
  • Demon Possession
  • A relationally immature attempt to get attention
  • Body modification taken to the extreme

Notes:  You must understand that it is not an attempt at suicide, but if the cycle continues it could be the result at the end of a fighting battle. The self-injurer is trying to save their life not take it.  We must understand that we join them in the fight for their life.  While there is definitely a spiritual battle going on, self-injury does not automatically equate to Demon Possession.  It’s not just about attention, it’s deeper than that and it needs our full undivided attention.  

Why do people Self-Injury?

  • Escape from depression
  • Easing tension
  • Providing relief from uncontrollable feelings
  • Maintaining a sense of security
  • Obtaining a feeling of euphoria
  • Preventing suicide
  • Expressing emotional pain they feel they cannot bear
  • Communicating to others the extent of their inner-turmoil
  • Communicating a need for support
  • Punishing oneself
  • Obtaining biochemical relief
  • Exerting a sense of control over one’s body

Notes: There are a lot of reasons listed here. The point here is to understand that they are hurting themselves to relieve emotional pain caused by extreme abuse, neglect, abandonment, deadness, betrayal, etc (these are just some of the triggers listed).  A big one is that they feel a false sense of control and security when they self-injure.  Also, they are expressing a cry for help when they self-injure.  They want someone to know their pain.

Some Practical Suggestions When Encountering Students Who Self-Injure

  • Refer them to a trained professional
  • Pray continually
  • Listen well
  • Live a life worthy of trust
  • Be available but never frantic
  • No biblical condemnation
  • We respond relationally by offering affirmation, our presence, acceptance and we speak hope

Notes: Referring them to a trained professional should be your first step.  Then you become a supporter/spiritual coach/prayer partner who genuinely listens and can be trusted.  You set the level of severity by how you respond.  So you never want to seem shocked or frantic by their actions.  The self-injurer is already at their lowest, therefore, using the bible to explain how wrong they are will only add more guilt and shame.  We want to use the bible to build and restore so you must be careful how you use it.

Self-injurers want help and want to be normal.  The worst thing we can do is dismiss them as a trivial attention getter.  The best thing we can do for them is address their self-injuring with intentional concern.  I do believe we are best for the job. Also, I can’t stress enough about the need for prayer, prayer, prayer!

Please leave a comment if you have anything to add or just comments about this post.

Hope this helps


When Boy Dates Girl!!

I got asked about the subject of relationships and so this is my response.  My rule of thumb is that if you can help it, hold off on starting a relationship.  High school already brings a ton of pressure and the last thing you need is a relationship that is complicated by nature.  I also understand those who feel the need to have one.  For those who are thinking about going in that direction here are a few things I would love for you to think about.  This is my relationship checklist and insight.

  1. Christ must be first in both lives. – 2 Corinthians 6:14 It’s easier to keep your standards and boundaries when your moral compasses are the same.
  2. Your relationships should be making you a better person and even strengthening  your walk with Christ.  The people in your life should be adding to it and not negatively taking away from it. – Proverbs 27:17
  3. Set standards that reflect how God sees and loves you. Write them down so you don’t forget them.  God sees you as worth dying for!  Don’t insult what he did by letting someone treat you with nothing less than the respect you deserve.
  4. Set boundaries and talk honestly, openly and frequently about them. Those who fail to set boundaries fail to understand that the consequences of their actions can be life changing for the worse. SET BOUNDARIES!!!
  5. Have an accountability partner that you can be truthful with and give them the authority to speak into your life. You need someone who’s going to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. – Ecclesiastes 4:10
  6. Don’t be afraid to end a relationship that is not honoring God.  If you are in a relationship (whether it’s with friends or boyfriend/girlfriend) and it’s dragging you down or you are starting to make bad choices, seek counsel and don’t be afraid to end the relationship.
  7. Let your parents weigh in on your decision. #superunpopularbutyouwon’tregretit:)

Being in the wrong type of relationship can do a lot of damage to you as an individual.  The bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.”  You must understand that  relationships are time consuming and if it is not doing what #2 says you are automatically spending a lot of time doing just the opposite.  While relationships can produce good things they also can produce very bad things which can carry over from relationship to relationship.

I believe we deceive ourselves most in the area of relationships.  We can be so blinded by our feelings that we allow them to make decisions for us.  I do not deny that feelings make it hard for us to just do what we logically know is right.  That’s why #5 is so important.  You need people in your life that can be honest with you when you are not being honest with yourself.  Someone who knows you and can speak logic and common sense into your situation.

You also have to be honest with yourself and listen to those who are in your life that only have your best interest at heart.  There is nothing worse than someone choosing to stay in a place that will automatically cause more harm than good.  That is why we live in community with others because we need people to speak truth to us when we are blinded and self-deceived.

Three questions for you to ask yourself:

  • Am I in a relationship blinded by my feelings?
  • Are there steps in this post I haven’t done or applied?
  • What part of this post can I relate to the most?

Hope it Helps!  Re-post.