I know there is no such thing as coincidence.  How do I know that?  Well, if there was such a thing, my life would be nothing more than a gigantic string of outrageous coincidences that started very early in my life.  Skeptical?  That’s okay, humor me a little, there is no such thing as coincidence.  Does that mean that fate takes over and we have only one destiny? No, not by a long shot, free will is never removed from our lives.  But what it means is that we are given opportunities at certain points.  What we do with those opportunities then determines how our future, and future opportunities, is shaped.

I just want to point out that I do say opportunity rather than challenge.  The opportunities in our life sometimes feel like challenges but that is only a matter of view-point.  Yes, we can see the challenge as an obstacle that is insurmountable, or we can see it as an opportunity to work magic and find new ways of being.  Either is a choice; each choice will lead to further opportunities, but not necessarily the same opportunities.  So, why am I rambling on about this?  Well that is simple.  This fall the Chaplains and Chapel staff came together with the Counseling Center on campus.  We wanted to talk to find out how each group can benefit from the work the other does.  More specifically the Chaplains wanted to understand what we could to help in grief counseling and suicide prevention.

This seems like a natural reaction to the recent rise in suicides in young adults.  The strange thing about this, however, is that the request by the Chaplains came long before these recent losses. That is right, a need had been defined a long time ago.  The increase of suicides on campuses across the country, and a feeling of inadequacy in dealing with the aftermath of grief that these deaths leave behind made us think that we needed to do something – to do more.  And so the work began; the challenge of coordinating schedules and to figure out what we needed to discuss and learn about each group and each other.  What did we each bring to the table as a skill or as a need?  We are continuing to work on our abilities to combine our efforts.  We are all here for the students.  For those feeling unable to deal with the grief as well as to help those who feel they can no longer cope with their lives.

Am I a counselor? No, and I would never say that I am nor try to do the work that they do.  But I am someone who individuals can come to if they need to talk or find solace in their lives.  I don’t have all the answers, none of us do.  But like all the Chaplains, I am here to help, to help in ways that I didn’t know that I could.  Working with the Counseling Center to see what we can do is the beginning.  The “It Gets Better” messages are also a beginning – a wonderful beginning.  I am happy to see so many respond to the need of people who are hurting, but the greater challenge is to take the next step, continue the work.  Or should I say that there is an opportunity here; an opportunity to get involved with a group to do more to stop the bullying, to stop the senseless deaths. 

By making the choice to get involved, by seeing that challenge as an opportunity maybe you will make a surprising discovery.  Maybe, just maybe, you find that the outsider that is being bullied is a warm and caring person with a great deal to offer.  Maybe they will be the one individual that will listen to you when you need someone to talk to. Maybe they will be the friend that you need because you became the friend that they needed.  You never know what you will discover when you decide to turn a challenge into an opportunity.  It could be the difference in someone’s life, maybe yours.  So don’t only say it will get better, actively work to help someone see that it does.

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