I had the honour of participating in Ignite London ( http://www.ignitelondon.ca )on Wednesday night. It was an incredible experience. I went with hopes of sharing a message and ended up coming away with so much more than I could ever hope to give. The speakers were amazing. The MC was awesome and the audience was inspiring. I shared a five minute presentation on Youth, Suicide and compassion. Due to a family emergency that happened this week and starting a new job on Monday I didn’t have as much time to prepare as I had planned, I wasn’t sure I would be able to deliver the message I wanted but my heart is forever changed thanks to the people that took the time to introduce themselves and talk to me afterwards.
I was blessed to have friends who came to support me and left feeling like I had more friends than I entered with. I met a beautiful young woman named Millie. Her smile was infectious, her story heartbreaking and her spirit filled with kindness and potential. I met a gentleman named Paul who kindly shared his story with me. It gave me more drive to continue with my efforts than ever before. I felt an immediate connection with him and felt his strength.
I was inspired by Justin who runs the Streetlight program for London Youth For Christ. I look forward to helping his programs in anyway possible. Meeting him helped answer some prayers for me and I feel overwhelming gratitude for his work, his love of God and his service to those in need. He embodies the compassion that I long to see in this world. I could feel his faith touch my soul as we briefly talked after the presentations.
I was grateful for David who was kind enough to connect with me and am excited for the potential for good that I see in him. And many more who spoke with me and took time to thank me, I want to thank them for their kind words and gentle spirits.
I am also grateful for another David that the night had my thoughts concentrate on, in fact my presentation was dedicated to him. When I was a teenager I babysat David and his beautiful sisters. His sister, Maria was kind enough to come out last night to support me. In 2007 David took his own life. I only recently found out about this tragic fact. I cried when I found out. I cried that he felt so lost and alone in life that he would choose to end it all. I cried for not doing more to reach out to him when we had contact, I cried for his amazing sisters and the pain and loss they have endured.
500 youth in Canada end their lives every year. For every one suicide that happens, another 400 youth attempt suicide. It is a frightening and horrible fact that is hard to comprehend. I know some youth today that feel hopeless, alone and that are overwhelmed with life. I pray for them. I pray for a way to reach them and let them know that there is hope, happiness and peace in this life if they can just hold on. It is hard when feeling despair to see things in life to be grateful for, but there is so much to be thankful for. It is hard to see the good and love that surrounds you when you are feeling completely alone, even if in a crowd. It is hard to know how to help yourself when feeling lost.
I don’t have all the answers, heck I don’t have any real answers that will work for everyone but I do know that a grateful heart and a life of service will bring a joy and peace that seemed impossible. It is hard to feel depressed when counting your blessings. It is hard to feel sorry for yourself and overwhelmed by your own circumstances when focused on those less fortunate or in need. I know that giving to others and sharing the talents that you were born with will help get you through the day. You will find others to reach out to, others who touch your heart and change your spirit if you listen to others stories and ease their pain rather than drowning in your own.
I am grateful for those who took the time to share a moment of their lives with me. I pray for those who find the strength, courage and desire to lift others up and support those around them. I am thankful for each and every individual I have met that blesses my life, teaches me lessons and give of themselves.
I am grateful for compassion in the world. For compassion can be one of the greatest forces in the world and can truly save a life.