The report was heartbreaking: women setting themselves on fire to find freedom from their domestic problems. These women felt there was no other way out. Then, the other day there was a report of a woman who jumped into a crocodile pit. Bystanders commented to the authorities that she seemed to welcome the violent death. My heart went out to these women.
While attending a small college years ago, I felt that there was no place in the world for me. As I sat in my room trying to decide how I would take my life, I said out loud, "there has to be a way out of this." But instead of taking my life that evening, I went to a church service on campus, offered by a local minister.
He spoke about God being at the rudder of the ship of life, steering this ship of life and happiness though the storms of unhappiness, abuse, meanness, sadness, and whatever else felt threatening in your life. He said that prayer is a life raft. He promised that God hears and answers every prayer.
Suicide would fool us into believing that it could place us on that "ship," but prayer, he shouted, is the only way to this ship of life. He asked each of us to close our eyes and pray to be on that ship of life and to be thankful to be free from the storms. I walked away from that meeting completely free from thinking that any answers could be found in taking my life.
Remembering this incident as I read reports of recent suicides, I wondered how I could share what I learned about suicide that it provides no solutions.
In the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the chapter called "Prayer" asks, "Dost thou 'love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul and with all thy mind'? This command includes much, even the surrender of all merely material sensation, affection, and worship" (pg. 9).
Starting prayer with love is primary. God is Love. We love God. Just quietly knowing that God loves and knows you, and that you know and love God, can clear the trouble from your thoughts. And you can feel this love extinguishing fear and grief.
The heart is usually associated with love, and we can think of our heart as the center of love. Each beat of our hearts can be a symbol of the continuous love God expresses to us and the love we desire to express in our lives. I sometimes think of each beat as a fresh view of love that is being offered to me. This has awakened me to realize my worth.
As we pray to be aware of the "all of God" in our actions and activities, this prayer assures us that there is no grip of slavery or abuse in our everyday lives. The Scriptures say that all God sees is good, and nothing good is withheld from anyone. I see more good in my life as I focus on the all of God.
Prayer can open the door that no one can close, to seeing the natural beauty and holiness in ourselves, because we are the expression of Soul, God. As we see our own worth, beauty, and holiness, our thoughts are free. This change in thought will allow ideas to come to us that will bless us and others.
As we recognize the power of God as Love, even for a moment, lack of worth, lack of affection, the cycles of abuse, and oppression that has ruled our lives will begin to dissolve.
The scriptures offer us proof that we are entitled to goodness, happiness, and productive lives. Here are a few statements that illustrate this: "You are always with me, and everything I have is yours" (Luke 15:31); "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33); "Listen to me and you will fare well, you will enjoy the fat of the land. Come to me and listen to my words, hear me and you will have life: I shall make an everlasting agreement with you to love you faithfully" (Isa. 55:23). This is where our prayer takes us.
Just as I was led to that meeting on campus so many years ago instead of taking my life, may you be led to behold the power of prayer to steer you. God does love you, and you can live.
You have rescued me from
death,my eyes from weeping,
my feet from stumbling. I shall walk in the presence of the Lord
in the land of the living.