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your decisions

"Your decisions will master you, whichever direction they take." MARY BAKER EDDY

The night I stopped thinking about suicide

From the May 22, 2000 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


Early in my career, I went through a six-month period when suicide was always on my mind. I was a young mother, working, in graduate school, and very active at church. My husband and I were still learning how to make the marriage work. And I wanted to do everything perfectly. But I just couldn't do it all right, all the time. I reached a point where suicide seemed the only way out of the pressure I was feeling.

I am deeply grateful that, at the same time, spiritual truths from Mary Baker Eddy's book Science and Health were also always in my thought, correcting and guiding me. Two statements in particular helped me to stay focused on patiently working out my problems so that I didn't just take them with me to the other side of the grave: "Death is not a stepping-stone to Life, immortality, and bliss" (p. 203) and, "As death findeth mortal man, so shall he be after death, until probation and growth shall effect the needed change" (p. 291).

I never thought about suicide again after that night of prayer and spiritual research.

I was aware that one of the occupational hazards of my work as a professional counselor was what one of the professors in my graduate program had called "emotional contagion." Counselors often find themselves struggling with the same problem that they have helped their clients with. Since I had recently helped a college student recover from a suicide attempt and had prevented another student from trying to commit suicide, I wondered if these suicidal thoughts were really my own. More likely they were an imposition, an "infection." This gave me some leverage for closing the door on them.

Love for my family, students, church, and community also strengthened my resistance to suicide. When I would try to figure out how to end my life in a way that would result in the least trouble to those who would find me, I would ask myself how I could bring them such pain and confusion. This would snap me out of the morbid episode.

I had to find a more constructive answer, though. I needed to find healing. During these months I pored over the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's writings. Almost every night, I sat down with these books, searching for inspiration and recording it in my journal. One night when the struggle seemed overwhelming, I wrote in large, tormented letters: WILL THERE EVER BE A DAY WHEN I DON'T THINK OF SUICIDE? It was a plea to God.

Immediately the word escape popped into my thought. I cringed at it, thinking I was being chastised for seeking an easy way out. Then I remembered Jesus' counsel "Agree with thine adversary quickly" (Matt. 5:25). What was the connection between these two thoughts, I wondered? It seemed I was being urged to agree with the notion that I needed to escape. So I thought, "OK, I do need an escape, but not the world's way. Dear Father-Mother God, show me the right way to escape." I began to look up all the passages where the word escape was used in the Bible.

I was amazed to learn how positively the Hebrews of the Old Testament used the word. They seemed to accept that individuals could not deliver themselves from all the troubles of life. Only God could do that, and their psalms yearned for and welcomed God's help.

Several statements had much meaning for me: "Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. ... I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest" (Ps. 55:6, 8). "Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (Ps. 124:7, 8).

Then I found this passage in the New Testament: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (I Cor. 10:13). I thanked God for making a way of escape for me and all who needed it.

Many months later I was looking through my journal, and I came across the scrawled question, "Will there ever be a day when I don't think of suicide?" The question startled me. Who had written it? I couldn't remember asking it. But after reading the earlier journal entries, it all came back to me—but with no pain. It was clear from my notes that I had never thought about suicide again after that night of prayer and spiritual research.

Since then I still occasionally feel pressures that seem overwhelming, but God continues to lead me to constructive answers. He gives to all "wings like a dove."

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