I’m still here. Here’s why.

“I believe that appreciation is a holy thing — that when we look for what’s best in a person we happen to be with at the moment, we’re doing what God does all the time. So in loving and appreciating our neighbor, we’re participating in something sacred.” -Fred Rogers

If you know me well, you may know that I’m something of an Anglophile. Not, as you might think, because of Britons I’d known from movies or literature or anything. It started back in 1993 when I met my friend, an itinerant missionary from the south of England.

Family life at the time was pretty sketchy for my siblings and I, and our parents, of course. Mom and Dad wouldn’t split for another seven years or so, but the strain of keeping it together was palpable. Constant loneliness and feelings of rejection began to wear me down and years of the stress of just living in our home had left me a bitter, sad, and angry little boy at the tender age of eleven. Now, I’m sharing all that to show what a low point I was experiencing, not as a dig at my parents. They’re lovely people who did everything they could for us, and I’m deeply thankful for them.

Loss of hope is a truly awful thing. Once it happens, you probably never fully recover. Left untreated, there’s only ever one outcome.

I’m here today because I had a friend. I had a person in my life who refused to ever forsake me and who made it his life’s mission to see to it that I knew that I was loved and that I had a purpose. A friend who, along with my parents and siblings, worked hard to give me a deep sense of who I am. You know that voice inside your head that gently chides you when you’re foolish, that encourages you when you’re feeling small, that affirms you when you act in kindness and generosity? Well, mine has a British accent to this day. If I’ve ever felt like being cruel but chose to do the other thing instead, if I’ve ever done anything courageous or selfless, if I’ve ever been a help to anyone in my life, it’s because of that friendship.

Who is someone in your life who has loved you into being? Take a moment now to think of them, as I have done, and think about how you could be that sort of person for someone else. Appreciation is a holy thing.