Suicidal to Purpose-filled:
from sincerely religious to a genuine follower of Jesus
A Leave It to Beaver Childhood – I grew up in a loving home in a suburb north of Chicago. We lived in a Catholic neighborhood where I attended a parochial school for 9 years, from kindergarten through 8th grade. I call them my Leave It to Beaver years because they were happy stable years for me and my 3 sisters. Dad provided for us all, and mom kept house and cooked delicious meals. We attended church regularly every Sunday, and I was serious and thoughtful about my religion. I felt a sense of peace in church, but I couldn’t seem to hold on to that peace when I stepped back outside. I wondered how to hang on to the serenity I felt inside the church walls.
A Seed of Depression Grows – After 8th grade, I attended public high schools. During those years, I met several people who talked to me about spiritual things and my personal beliefs. I had been struggling with bouts of depression and the purpose of life. Since religion was typically not discussed at home, I was eager to talk to someone about it. We moved during my freshman year, and I had to leave a high school I was proud to be a part of. I really missed my school and friends. A seed of depression took hold in my mind and began to grow. What was the point of living years of life’s aggravations: tests, stress, jobs, relationships, problems, pain, sickness, etc.? Life did not seem worth the hassles as I looked ahead.
In spite of my solid family life, thoughts of suicide began to nag me, especially on weekends when I wasn’t involved in school activities. One voice in my head urged me to just kill myself and be done with life! But another voice begged me not too. I thought, what if tomorrow the answer comes, and I will have missed it by one day? God used that slender thread of curiosity to keep me hanging on as maddening voices swirled round & round in my mind.
Coffeehouse Encounter – When I was 16, a classmate invited me to a Christian coffeehouse to continue discussing some of my beliefs which he had challenged. There, I met a young man named Perry who opened a New Testament and showed me that Jesus could be found on every page. He explained that the Bible was written to show us how to know God personally. We talked for several hours and the Holy Spirit opened the eyes of my heart and showed me that the way to heaven was through Christ alone.
What I was missing to pull all the pieces of life together was a personal connection to the Lord Jesus Christ. I already understood from my religious upbringing how Jesus suffered and died on the cross for our sins, but when Perry opened the Bible to me, I understood clearly my own need. It was not religion that would complete me; it was a relationship with the God who had created me, who loved me, and who died for me.
Change of Heart – Without even saying a prayer, I knew in my heart a change had taken place. No longer did I have to be good enough to work my way to heaven. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was enough to cover all sins: past, present, and future. It was not my righteousness that opened the way to heaven; it was His. His work was enough! Titus 3:5 says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (KJV) This is what happened to me at the coffeehouse.
That night I learned what it meant to be “born again,” not physically, but spiritually. Forgiven! I now knew, based on the Bible, I was going to heaven. Romans 10:9, 13 also summarized the turning point of salvation for me: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved….for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'” (NIV)
New Perspective – Knowing Christ and being a recipient of his grace in this personal way changed my perspective. Finally, life made sense. Christ filled the void in me and gave life purpose and joy. The power of the Word of God urges me to look past earthly struggles and keep pressing on. Now, my life has meaning. The Bible shows me how to live as the Lord Jesus meets my needs and gives me forgiveness, peace, purpose and hope.
I would love to hear your story too. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may subscribe to receive my blogs or follow me on Facebook. Photo: bing.com