Book Review: “I Love Jesus, But I Want to Die – Finding Hope in the Darkness of Depression” by Sarah J. Robinson

This review was originally posted on my previous blog, Muses of a Mom in May 2021. It is being reposted here with updates and as a resource for Mental Health Awareness Month.

It is always a pleasure when I’m selected to be on a new book release launch team, and this is one where I was happy to participate. For selfish reasons.

The title, I Love Jesus, But I Want to Die: Finding Hope in the Darkness of Depression by Sarah J. Robinson, hit me with a jolt of electricity. Not only did I want to support a fellow Hope*Writer, but it was also a time when I needed reassurance. Encouragement. Something.

While it took me longer to read this title than others, I didn’t want to miss anything. There is such a need for books on mental illness with a Biblical emphasis, especially with truth. At the beginning of the book, Sarah says: ‘it means nothing is wrong with us when we struggle in the darkness. It means we haven’t failed, we aren’t bad Christians, and we’re not lacking faith. Jesus promised we would have trials and sorrows and hard times.”

This book is written with Biblical truths and their practical applications. There is helpful input from other therapists, authors, and specialists in the fields of mental illness and depression.

Sarah writes with a hallowed honesty as she recounts her experiences of depression’s grip: her attempt to die, her habit of cutting, consistent dark thinking, and the shame that kept her from asking for help for the longest time. (Sarah kindly puts “trigger warnings” in places of the book to let the reader be prepared.) When she received help from fellow ministry leaders, she received love and guidance. Now, Sarah realizes that church leaders are woefully untrained to help fellow parishioners with this issue.

Like many who deal with depression, Sarah’s self-talk continually told her to work harder, help others, and have more faith. There is a lot of shame you carry when you have depression. That inner voice tells you to “get on with it” and “pushing through will make you stronger.” While that may help some in temporary situations, it is not what happens with those of us who deal with depression and anxiety as an illness. Just because you are a Christian doesn’t mean that you can endure depression without trouble.

Through time and work, Sarah now benefits from medicines from her doctor and helpful therapy from counselors. She understands the need to be ruthless with self-care, set boundaries for herself, and continue learned strategies for beating back the darkness when it comes. A realization was that as much as she loved Jesus, receiving complete healing from her mental illness is probably not in her future. However, she says: “When we endure suffering, including mental illness, we have the opportunity to know God in an incarnational way.” And I believe that she has.

Who Should Read this Book

This book is not just for those with depression and anxiety looking for confirmation and strategies for their own mental health. It is also for their loved ones, friends, plus people in ministry. It gives an intimate look at the mechanisms of depression: how that person thinks, the right and wrong ways to lend support, and how to listen and love well. People with mental illness believe they are irrevocably broken. Their shame is a “self-reinforcing loop, turning back on itself to create more and more as we feel shame about our shame.” Those with depression need support, understanding, and hope toward living better. For a family member who struggles, saying something such as “I don’t think less of you” and “you’re still worth loving” is priceless.

By Sarah’s example, I hope readers realize the need to recognize those struggling and reach out with love and encouragement. I’m thankful for Sarah’s courage in sharing her story: the pain, struggles, her path to acceptance, and healthier living.

Her words are an inspiration to me as I progress along the same road. I was heartened to read how self-talk can be changed. Self-care isn’t an option but a necessity. Boundaries are an essential tool of self-preservation. I was uplifted, affirmed, and empowered. This book will become one of the tools in my arsenal that I will reach for again.

#mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthawarenessmonth #notalone

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook Publishing for my review. As an Amazon Affiliate, there may be links in this post, which if you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission that helps support this blog. You are in no way obligated to use these links.

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