Hopeless: A Repost

The last week of October, my friend Stephanie Wetzel at The Red Clay Diaries talked me into taking part in the NaNoWriMo writing challenge. That means that I started a brand new novel at midnight on November 1 and by the end of the night on November 30, I must have 50,000 words written. If you do the math, that comes out to 1,667 words per day. But that’s assuming you meet your goal each day. I started out quite well, but I got a little bogged down toward the end of the week and I’m now behind. Over the next couple of weeks, while I’m furiously catching up on my as-yet-unnamed novel, I have a couple of guest bloggers that I’m pretty excited about. But today, I’m posting a bit of my testimony that I shared on my blog some months ago before I had many readers. It will probably be new to most of you….

I was fourteen the first time I remember wanting to die.  Lying in bed one night I just had an almost overwhelming desire to die.  I couldn’t explain it or make it go away, so I tried to ignore it.  I never told anyone.  But by the time I was seventeen, wanting to die was a normal emotion for me. 

When I was a little girl, my older brother told me that killing yourself is a sin and that God won’t forgive you for it.  For years, that fear was the only thing that kept me from killing myself.  I never told anyone.  Not my parents, my brother, my friends, or my doctor. 

In my quest to be the perfect pastor’s daughter, I learned how to wear a mask at all times so that nobody—even my family—would know that anything was wrong.  And when the mask would slip and someone would see my weakness or my pain, I’d explain it away and then put my mask back on.

I thought that when I accepted Christ, my life would be filled with joy and that I would somehow live above the pain, but that didn’t happen.  In fact, some of the most painful things that have happened to me have happened since I accepted Christ.  I came to realize that if Satan couldn’t kill me (which the Bible says he can’t) then he was going to do everything possible to steal my joy and to make me ineffective in the Kingdom.

God gave me an incredible support system to surround me in the first few years that I was a Christian.  They encouraged me, exhorted me, and constantly challenged me to grow closer to Christ.  During my senior year of college, I went to school full time, wrote a feature-length screenplay, and worked full time.  And the closer I got to Christ, the more people began to depend on me for their emotional support.  Most nights when I came back to the dorm from work at 1 am, I’d find people or messages or emails.  “Sarah, I need…”  “Sarah, can you…”  “Sarah, do you have…”  “Sister, I have this problem…” 

And so, one night, sitting at my desk, I decided that I couldn’t keep up the charade anymore.  I grabbed a white Kleenex, laid it on the desk, and then began to scout the suite for whatever pills I could find.  As I found pills of various kinds, I brought them and piled them neatly in the center of the Kleenex.  White pills, red pills, green pills, yellow pills.  A veritable buffet of death.  I made one last trip to the bathroom to hunt for pills and as I passed the mirror, I saw myself out of the corner of my eye.


Without stopping to think about it, I ran to the bedroom, grabbed the Kleenex off my desk, and flushed the whole mess down the toilet.

The late Rev. Tommy Tyson once said, “If you smile enough and you’re friendly enough, no one will think you’re afraid.”  And that’s been my life: one smile after another, trying to convince the world and myself that I’m not afraid or weak or inferior.  And while I’d been somewhat successful at convincing the world, I hadn’t managed to convince myself.  I hadn’t realized that Christ is my faith, my strength, and my worth.  Facing the pressures of the world by myself, I lost my hope.  Even when I flushed the pills, I somehow couldn’t find my hope.

In the years since that night, I continued to walk with Christ.  There have been other nights, even since then, that I have thought of killing myself.  But, I began to learn how to let down my mask and be more real with people.  I began to tell my story.  And like peeling an onion, layers and layers and layers of hurt and pain and fear began to peel away.  But many days, I was still aware that at the end of the day, I hadn’t really been victorious.  Really, I was just hanging onto a cliff by my fingertips.

Last July, I went on my 6th mission trip.  Our team was hosted by a wonderful missionary couple who strongly believe in the power of prayer.  One morning, as we were driving to our clinic for the day, the missionary wife reached over to quietly pray for me.  And when she began to whisper in my ear, I broke.  She said, “Sarah, you have no hope.  Where’s your hope?”  And then, she prayed that God would take away my hopelessness and heal me.  That day, thousands of miles from home, God began to heal the hurts of thirty years.

Earlier this year, I had a family member who struggled with some suicidal thoughts.  Even as I prayed for her, I thought, “Lord, would it help for me to tell my story?”  But I knew the answer before I asked it.  I told part of my story one night at a women’s Bible study at church and when I did, it was like a dam broke.  Women all over the room began to break down and tell of their struggles.  Why is it that we women of God are so afraid to ask for help and to let people see our weakness?  But that night, we did—and it was the most powerful night of ministry I’ve ever experienced in that church. 

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (TLB) “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken.  We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit.  We are hunted down, but God never abandons us.  We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.  These bodies of ours are constantly facing death just as Jesus did; so it is clear to all that it is only the living Christ within [who keeps us safe].”

 And one more note: I posted this in May… About six weeks ago, I visited the doctor and was put back on antidepressant medicine. Initially, I felt very guilty for sharing a testimony about finding hope when it seemed that I wasn’t able to hold on to the hope well enough to stay off of medication. And I guess that some people might agree with that. But for me, at this moment, the medicine is helping me to stay clear-minded enough that I can see the hope. At women’s Bible study a few weeks ago, I guiltily shared with some of the women that I felt that I’d failed by going back on the medication. They quickly reminded me that sometimes, God works through medicine. At the end of the session, one of the leaders came up to me and admitted that she’s recently had to go back on antidepressants after being off of them for a long time. So, thanks be to God that my sharing of my difficulty is empowering other women to come out of isolation about their difficulties!

About Sarah Salter


  1. Sarah… wow! I know you told me you were going to repost a ‘mask’ post, but I wasn’t expecting this. Thank you for telling your story so that others might relate and/or not be afraid to seek the help they need.

    You know you have my prayers and support!

  2. It’s funny how people think that by not sharing the most important things (such as the feeling of hopelessness) they are shielding themselves and others from knowing the truth. Like as if knowing that truth would do something terrible. This is such a powerful weapon that Satan uses through us, and we aren’t even aware it’s happening. We think that WE are deciding not to talk about it, when it’s just another form of bondage that Satan uses against us.

    Never be embarrassed that you have to be on medication. That’s like a diabetic apologizing for having to take insulin. Sometimes our bodies just need a little help.

    How freeing (and scary) it must have been for you to share this with literally the world. I pray that God uses your testimony to help someone else come out from the darkness that these feelings of hopelessness brings.

    Something I heard yesterday… Suffering is not the end. It’s never the end. It may last a day, a month, 30 years, but it’s never the end. We all need to remember that on our darkest days (because we ALL have them). We were not made for this place. It’s no wonder we never feel completely at peace.

    I’m glad to know you, Sarah.

  3. Sarah Salter says:

    Ginny- I had a pastor once who loved to say that God can’t work with a lie, He can only work with the Truth. It’s true. And it’s a very freeing thing to live by.

  4. I truly believe that God does some of His best work through medicine. You are not alone in any of your feelings and I appreciate you sharing your story with us.

    “Everything works out in the end – if it hasn’t worked out, it isn’t the end.”

    Love your heart, Sarah.

  5. Sarah Salter says:

    Thank you, Candy! And I agree that God does do some great work through medicine, though that is a little harder to accept for myself. Nice quote, too! 🙂

  6. I love me some anti-depressants! Why in the world do we stop taking them? Someone was using the gifts that God gave them to create this medicine, and we turn our noses up at it? I for one need to stop looking a gift horse in the mouth. So there.

  7. It’s amazing how so many struggle with the same things, but we can so easily believe the lie that we are the only ones. Isolation is so detrimental to us in every way. God created us to be open with him and with our brothers and sisters… Thanks for sharing this, Sarah- a powerful testimony.

  8. Sarah Salter says:

    Wendy, I love you! You make me laugh and you’re better than any medicine the doctor could prescribe!

  9. Sarah Salter says:

    Jason, the Bible says to confess our faults to one another so that we may be healed. Why don’t we take God at His Word? Oh, wait…. That’s a whole ‘nother blog post. 🙂

  10. Kristi Fornshell says:

    Wow!!! This one testimony is surely part of the reason God stayed your hand that night. to help others who might consider “permanent solution to a temporary situation” Longstanding but ultimately temporary…..Thru Grace

  11. Sarah, this is an incredible story and I believe you can touch a lot of lives with it. Maybe there is someone that really needs to hear it because they have no hope and you are going to bring that hope to them.

    Thanks for sharing this Sarah.

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