Testimonies

Suicide, a Teen, and a Priest on a Plane

Suicide is a rough topic. When it happens, it’s horrific. But even more often than people do it, they think about it. Some just toy with the idea, and some go as far as planning it out. Some really believe they want to die. Others just want people to pay attention to them long enough to make them want to live. When I was a teenager, the thought occurred to me more than once. When I confided in a stranger on a plane, he spoke the words that I have kept with me all these years. It’s a testimony and a message of hope for anyone struggling with the idea of suicide today.

My Situation as a Teen

From the time I was 12, I lived in Texas with my dad and step-mom.  Every summer and Christmas break, I would fly to Minnesota to spend time with my mom and step-dad and brother and sister. It was on one of those trips when I was about 16 that I found myself seated next to a priest. Well, he might have been a priest. He could have been a minister or a pastor. I just remember he wore a collar. Given the nearly three hour flight, we started talking, and for some reason, I opened up. I told him that I had recurring thoughts of suicide. 

I was an emotional kid who loved to write. For hours, I would sit in my bedroom and read or write poetry. Some of my poetry was pretty sad and dark. I was a believer, but I hadn’t given my whole life to Jesus yet, so I think that’s the way I processed my world. Anyway, as those sad thoughts were rolling around in my head and spilling out onto the page, the background music was 80’s hair band ballads. If you’re not familiar with the genre, they are basically slow songs done by heavy metal artists. Poison, Skid Row, Warrant, Tesla – songs of lost love and teen angst sung to a soulful, heavy guitar riff with pounding drum interludes. It was all very dramatic. So the thoughts came in.

Words I Won’t Forget

I don’t know why I shared those thoughts with my airplane seatmate, though. I certainly would never have told my own priest at the Greek Orthodox church I attended at the time. Maybe it is the same reason people put personal information online today. There is that little bit of anonymity that makes it okay to share your deepest secrets with a willing ear knowing that your family, your boss, and your friends in real life will never know. Anyway, after I finished talking, the man in the collar looked at me for a second, and then hit me with the words I will never forget.

You must be pretty important to God’s plan for Satan to work so hard to get rid of you.

Boom. Now, don’t take these words the wrong way. I don’t think I’m some big shot for God or anything. But the guy did have a point. Satan is a real adversary. He prowls about seeking whom he may devour. He was putting thoughts in my head that would take me off the path God had set for me and into the pits where he, himself, is headed. The enemy wanted me dead because I matter to God.

Comfort for Me and You

The words gave me comfort that I was important and hope that I had a future that was worth living for. To this day, I don’t really know if the guy on that plane was actually an angel, a good man of God, or just a guy who wanted me to shut up so he could sleep. What I do know, however, is that the message has stuck with me all these years. It’s something I held in my heart any time that the enemy tried those deadly whispers. And it’s something I now say to anyone who brings up the topic of suicide within my hearing today. 

If you are (or someone you know is) experiencing thoughts about suicide, you, too, are a target of the enemy. And you, too, are important to God and His plan. Satan has tipped his hand, and now you see all of his cards. He doesn’t win. He can’t win. So, fight knowing that Jesus has the victory, and rest knowing that you are loved.

Interested in another article about healing? Check out A Testimony of Healing After a Prayer in Faith. Or, try The Cure for Depression: Jesus is My Medicine, my testimony about how God healed me of depression and anxiety.

Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.

5 thoughts on “Suicide, a Teen, and a Priest on a Plane”

  1. Wow… such a simple statement, yet such a PROFOUND mark it left!! And I can understand why! I knew these feelings all too well, and I’m SO GLAD that Jesus found me right where I was. He does win! And I can’t praise Him enough!! Thank you for sharing this, sis. Praise God!

  2. There is no such thing as coincidence! You mentioned in your piece “I don’t really know if the guy on that plane was actually an angel, a good man of God, or just a guy who wanted me to shut up so he could sleep”. I love this because even though the message is coming from the mouth of a man you know that God put it on his heart! A wonderful story of strength and encouragement for others!

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