As a young adult, I had a few times when life seemed to cave in on me. There were some pretty low moments. I remember thinking more than once that it would be better if I just weren’t around anymore. Recently released studies indicate that contemplated suicide continues to be a serious concern, especially among undergraduate students. Some of the specific issues that people surveyed have struggled with include depression, stress, substance abuse, feelings of isolation, and illness, among others.
Having faced such darkness myself and in working with others, I am utterly convinced that fear, pain, and depression can be overcome. I am confident that countering such problems is not a hopeless task, and that prayer is an effective starting point.
In my case, I recognized that these feelings were rooted in a sense that I was separated from, or lacking, love. But through the grounding in spiritual ideas I had received in a Christian Science Sunday School, a part of me sensed, even during the most difficult times, that such a separation could not be possible. So when those thoughts came, I would consider the more spiritual way of looking at myself and others that I’d learned: seeing us as inseparable from our divine Father-Mother, God, who is infinite Love itself.
Each time, this response to those dark thoughts helped free me from them. My thinking became less self-involved, and I felt more interested in living, which I saw as expressing my nature as the image of divine Love. Each victory over darkness brought a great sense of relief, and the dark thoughts ultimately stopped altogether.
Another idea that has been a steady beacon of light to me is that even in bad situations, God has a way out that doesn’t include death. The prophet Elijah found that to be the case when things seemed so dire that he begged God to take his life (see I Kings, Chap. 19). Instead, God fed and sustained Elijah until not only was he lifted out of despair, but he could also see that he had never truly been alone. From this I’ve learned to look for and value the spiritual fact of our oneness with our Father-Mother, God. And I’ve seen firsthand that when we do this, for ourselves and others, a fuller sense of joy and peace naturally results.
So we really don’t need to resign ourselves to any sense that students or others are inevitably susceptible to feelings of isolation or despair. As compelling as these thoughts can seem, they are not part of the oneness we each have with our loving Father-Mother, who is unending Life itself. That is one of the ideas in a book that was instrumental to me in finding my freedom – “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science. The book puts it this way: “As a drop of water is one with the ocean, a ray of light one with the sun, even so God and man, Father and son, are one in being” (p. 361).
The impact of understanding this spiritual oneness was vividly seen in the many healing works of Christ Jesus, as reported in the Scriptures. The Christ, by which Jesus is named, is the idea of unending, spiritual Life, and it is an always-present idea that can be glimpsed by people on college campuses and in every community, to help lift feelings of depression or hopelessness. We can pray for receptivity to this healing idea in the hearts of those struggling with a temptation to take their life, and for our own awareness and willingness to act on opportunities to directly help anyone with such a need.
Recently some young adults and I had a conversation in which I was touched by their sincerity and compassion for those who feel left out of God’s care. The discussion helped me grasp a bit more clearly just how precious, unique, and essential each one of us is. Like the multifaceted reflection of light glinting from a diamond, each of us has unique, individual, spiritual qualities to express as part of God’s complete creation. Each of us is needed.
No one can be lost to God. As Elijah learned, and as I found when I was lifted out of those dark times, God is present and tenderly caring for each one of us right now and always. This truly is the healing light that can expel the darkness from our lives.