As a young woman who finished college in the late 1960s, my big dreams were marriage to the guy I was dating and a storied career churning out marvelous paintings that would enrapture sophisticated patrons. After my relationship with that guy unexpectedly ended and I became entrenched in a creative impasse, I found myself entertaining suicidal thoughts every other day. I hated my life.
I hung onto whatever hope I could for at least two years as I made my way from one unsatisfying job after another. I should also note my sadness was due to more disappointments than the failure of two dreams.
But I’m alive today and I want to explain why the suicidal ideation I experienced failed to take me down. An unconventional evangelist (who carried his 100 pound cross across the U.S and later into every country of the world) led me in a prayer to ask Jesus into my life. Observing his life made me aware that following Jesus could be amazing.
I started devouring scripture as it suddenly became alive to me. I also must credit further rootedness and spiritual growth to many dedicated, mature Christians – some who invited me to live in their homes, some who made me part of the fabric and leadership of several parachurch ministries, and many in traditional church settings who encouraged me to thrive.
Before my commitment to Jesus, I had not come to the point of a suicide attempt. After my conversion, suicidal ideation didn’t instantly disappear. The best way to describe my condition is that two years of intense depression and sadness formed deep grooves in my mind. Moving out of that state took not only time, but acceptance from those I admired. Also, critical to recovery was finding meaning in helping others who needed what the Holy Spirit had empowered me to give.
I haven’t been bothered by suicidal ideation for many years now. But I can remember the last time Satan zipped one of those thoughts into my mind. What countered it was my awareness that ending my life would negatively impact my then 13 year old niece in Kansas.
Before my conversion, I tried to slog through the book of Job and saw his massive losses at the hand of Satan. Almost worse than the losses was the counsel of those who normally supported him. Job and his wife (who suffered the same losses) had this exchange:
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 29-10 ESV)
Job’s faith seemed strong as he wrestled with their insurmountable devastation. But for some of us, sadness and depression leads to despairing, even suicidal thoughts. Are you or someone you know experiencing such attacks from Satan? In my case, God provided many resources through other Christian brothers and sisters. One of South Fellowship’s Life Groups, Support Groups or Serving Opportunities could be a good start. If the need is immediate, here is the national site for urgent cases and mental health resources https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.