Hello. My name is Fe. I call myself a Second Day Person because I passed through the dark night of suicidal thinking. I didn’t know that I would survive, but, thankfully, a new day did dawn in my life. I realize that I am not alone. Not everyone goes through the same kind of dark night that I did, but so many people today find themselves in desperate situations, alone, trapped, and in pain. These are the very persons that Jesus reached out to. And they are the people I want to reach out to as well. These include people with public failures, those rejected by family and friends, estranged parents, and other folks I call “Damaged Good.”
Everyone deserves to recover.
While suicidal thinking has a great deal of shame and stigma attached to it, it is actually quite common and understandable. In the majority of cases, persons who begin to consider suicide feel trapped in a situation that is causing unbearable pain combined with inadequate resources to deal with it. This does not make them sick, sinful, or weaker than any of the rest of us. It does mean that they may need additional resources to specifically address this aspect of their experience.
Fe Anam Avis, himself a survivor of suicidal thinking, has written a daily resource for persons struggling with suicidal thinking. It is titled Dawnings: Daily Scripture for those Recovering from Suicidal Thinking. Based on the idea that suicidal thinking is the equivalent of a spiritual thirst for peace, clarity, and love, Dawnings supports the slow, steady healing and rebuilding of the inner life. Its 300-pages provide eight weeks of the daily spiritual drip of love, challenge, and hope that is essential to the recovery process.
What if we were to temporarily strip away all the teachings of Jesus so that his life became our only teacher? What if, instead of the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord’s Prayer, the parable of the Prodigal Son, and the command to forgive seventy times seven, we focused on a man who worked a trade and owned a home, lost nearly everything in a midlife transition, survived the temptation to take his own life, escaped the attempts of others to kill him, but emerged from it all with the capacity to offer healing and hope to a degree unrivaled in human history.
Suppose our lives are not simply a chaotic collection of promising beginnings and heartbreaking set-backs, but a reenactment of a divine being having a human experience? What if this pattern in the life of Jesus is attempting to repeat itself in our lives? What then?
This book is written to reach into the heart not just into our minds. As a therapist and former pastor, Fe Anam provides me with a new way of relating the life of Jesus, not just his teachings, to my life experiences and to the life journey of others.
James Hanna, pastor, therapist, and former executive director of Samaritan Counseling Center.
What is the most ignored aspect of the life of Jesus? In their new book, Michelle Snyder and Fe Anam Avis suggest that it is the period between his life as carpenter living in Capernaum and the beginning of his ministry as an itinerate preacher/healer. They have named this period of upheaval, temptation, and transformation “reinvention.”
Why does this matter? By naming reinvention as an authentic expression of discipleship, Snyder and Avis open up a hopeful possibility for hundreds of thousands of persons of faith who need a deep and significant change in their lives. In a book that is not only insightful but also practical and positive, they address what makes reinvention different from conversion and how to know when reinvention is the next path you need to choose, the five stages of reinvention and the critical steps you need to take during each stage, when it is time to relinquish and let go rather than engage in an endless and fruitless effort to restore an elusive past, how to deal with the places reinventors tend to get stuck, the inner critic, letting go, grief, suicidal thinking, fatigue and regret.
In Life, Death, & Reinvention, Michelle Snyder and Fe Anam Avis lend new language to an experience that many readers will find familiar: the “messy and ambiguous” process of reinventing one’s life. Through their rich reflections on of the stages of reinvention—contradiction, collapse, clarity, commitment, and coherence—Snyder and Avis paint readers a picture of what reinvention often looks like, and of the particular challenges and joys that come with it. If you are in the midst of reinvention, or if you care for someone who is, this book will be a valuable resource.
Leanna K. Fuller, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
A Second Day describes time when someone has found deliverance from the grip of suicidal thinking. There are many more Second Day people living among us than we may realize. They are at work and in worship and in classrooms. They are within circles of friends and within families. Yet society continues to believe that suicidal thinking is rare and shameful.
A central theme of this book that threads through every chapter is that suicidal thinking is often a response of a benighted Soul, struggling to find authentic expression in communities that are hostile or indifferent to its existence. The Soul has a voice that will not be denied and a wisdom that is sound. Perhaps as we begin to give dignity to that wisdom we can begin to redirect the suicidal impulse to its more constructive purpose: transformation.
To see life from both sides now” is a rare gift. To share that insight with others is a blessing. To create new language to engage in conversation on suicidal thinking transforms the lives of individuals and communities. This is the heart of A Second Day, a book that lifts the soul and quickens the heart.
The Very Reverend Rebecca L. McClain, Transition Consultant
Helping people find their best minds in times of personal crisis.