When I first saw the title “I Love Jesus… But I Want to Die,” I was a bit stunned. That title alone indicated the level of honesty and vulnerability with which this book would approach an extremely difficult topic. There were safer choices: “I Love Jesus, but I struggle with suicidal thoughts,” “I Love Jesus, but I’m So Depressed,” or “I Love Jesus, but I Think About Self-Harm” all might be appropriate titles, but would also belie a fear or timidness around the topic. The bold choice of this title is reflected in the fearlessness of this book to tell the truth about depression, self-harm, and suicide; that they are not at odds with full and authentic faith.
In the last two years I’ve come to recognize and seek help for depression and anxiety. I’ve never struggled with self-harm or suicidal ideation, but the seasons of depression have been very real and had significant impact on my life. I share this to note that this book is not only for those whose depression includes those things; I found this book to be profoundly helpful for the form of depression I experience. More than that, it has helped me understand those in my life for whom depression looks differently, and carries a different level of risk to their safety. In that way, this book is for everyone.
Miraculously, this book read for me as almost universally accessible across the ever-polarizing spectrum of Christianity. I’m sure that both progressives and fundamentalists may wish for more to their respective sensibilities at certain points, but author Sarah Robinson seems committed to the book’s inoffensiveness, which I think is crucial to its purpose. This book is intended to save lives and promote human flourishing in the face of a Christian culture of silence and shame. It confronts us on the points where those values are at stake, and holds all else with an open hand, refusing to alienate anyone who would need its message. I learned so much from it as a downright radical who would get thrown out of most churches, and I also felt comfortable giving it my far more conservative sister when I finished reading. To write for us both is no small feat, and Robinson deserves immense credit.
Admittedly, this is the first book like this I’ve read, so I cannot compare it to similar works. I can say with confidence thought that if I knew anyone who considered themselves at all adjacent to Christianity who struggled with depression, I would recommend this book in a heartbeat.