Helen Chia-Thomas, senior lecturer and family law practitioner

Helen graduated from the University of Wolverhampton in 1995. She specialised in matrimonial law by her sixth year of practice. Helen is a pioneer in Collaborative Family Practice and also a trained Family Mediator, Child Representative, Parenting Coordinator, and Cross-border Family Mediator. She is currently Senior Lecturer at the School of Law, Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). Helen enjoys journaling and keeps a different journal for different themes.

This Letter is addressed to herself in 2017, after years in practice, when she finds that she has fallen into depression.

Helen, Helen.

Do you remember the first time God called your name?

You had just started general practice in a small firm. Your boss gave you a file: a lady had stolen money from her employers; she needed the money; her mother was down with cancer and subsequently died of it; her husband was a bankrupt; she had a three-year-old boy at the material time. She was a Christian, and so were you.

Client meetings became sharing meetings. She decided to plead guilty, and you asked for prayer to cover you. One week before the mention where she was to take her plea and be sentenced, your client called you and asked, “Did you read the papers?” A lady in a similar position to your client had been sentenced to a year’s imprisonment. You prayed all the harder.

The day of her mention rolled around. You appeared before a very strict judge -- and to your utmost shock, he orders your client to pay a $6,000 fine. When you left the courtroom, a senior lawyer followed you out. He looked at you and said, “You must be a Christian.” When you said yes, he went on, “When you stood up, the spirit of God told me to look at you and when I looked at you the spirit of God told me to cover you, your client, and the judge in prayer.”

Helen, God sends us angels in our lives, and that day He sent you an angel with a message: He was at work when you were at work. Repeat now the words you heard Him say that day: “You’ve always wanted to be a lawyer, and I have given you the desires of your heart. Use it for my glory. Because I can always take it away the way I gave it to you.”

God made it so clear. He showed you His plan for you and opened the doors so wide that you had no other option but to walk right through. And family lawyering became, for you, a form of service; your strong traits, put to God’s glory.

But things have been different lately, haven’t they? You don’t like going to work anymore. You don’t like to see your baby girl dancing around, you prefer to see her sleeping. Your client is brutally slashed by her husband and you can’t bring yourself to see her or be with her family. You find yourself thinking, “I don’t care.” One day, while waiting to see the duty judge, you are seized by a sudden desire to run out of the courtroom and never come back.

Helen, this isn’t you.

You will find out that you have fallen into depression, the result of relying on your own strength and taking on two high-profile, emotionally wrought cases. Your wake-up call will be your daughter, lying beside you in bed one night and telling you, “I want a happy mama.”  

In the worst year of your entire life -- you will find that God speaks to us in our darkness, too. God will take that period of depression and put it to use for His glory. He will tear all your layers down. He will strip you bare. You will be cold, and naked, and vulnerable, but once you go down to the foot of the cross, He will raise you from the ashes and make you new.

In the same year, you will be approached by the Dean of the School of Law at SUSS and new, wide open doors will await you. You don’t think you’ll ever be ready, but you seek God and you feel Him telling you to go for it. I will raise you from the ashes.

The meetings that follow will reveal to you in bite-sized portions the purpose and design of your life. Helen, pay attention! That is God telling you why you are there.  

Then restoration will come to your life. You will realise that the one person who will continue to be constant in your life is your husband. He will support you the whole way. He will pray with you and pray for you. He will never judge you. He will never leave you.

That’s how God works. You think now that depression means failure. You think that having a meltdown is failing yourself, not to mention all the people around you. But God will never fail you. And with Him on your side, how can you fail? He is about to take you on a journey of immense grace, and He will heal the parts of you that even you didn’t know you had to deal with.

When God first spoke to you, you decided to use your gifts to make an impact, even if only to one life. School has now opened, and Helen, you are going to impact lives in a bigger way. You are going to equip the lawyers of tomorrow with the skills to be instruments in their workplaces. Do you see, once you let God intervene in your work, how beautifully He comes through?

Helen, God has promised us that He will take care of us. He is taking care of you, now, even in the darkest year of your life. Hold on to Him, and you will be remoulded beyond your imagination.

I’ll be seeing you,


Thomas Chuang, legal product expert

Lewis Tan, Justices’ Law Clerk