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What We Need When Life Hurts

Dr. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker

The older we get, the simpler life becomes. A close loved one of mine recently found out she has stage 3 cancer. She is bright and highly educated but none of that helps her get through her days. Having a loved one with her will. And when my father-in-law, a retired physician, lay on his death bed he said that Jesus loved him and that’s all he needed to know. He was a brilliant man. I do believe that simplicity is born from great wisdom and wisdom is born from pain. Both of these folks have born their share of pain.

Last year was one of the most difficult of my life. Until then, I confess, I lived in awful fear. I believed that I couldn’t live without a certain loved one and I was terrified what would happen when she died. Most of us have at least one person in our lives who fits that bill. We fear their death, but mostly we fear for ourselves without them. Enduring the grief of last year forced me to give up many of my fears because I have learned that, yes, I can survive. We can survive the loss of a spouse, a child, a home, a job, you name it because we are a stalwart lot of creatures who need one or two others.

My father-in-law wanted Jesus as he died. All of his medical knowledge became irrelevant (almost trite) and he wanted to see his Lord. My loved one with cancer needs support, care and love to make it until another day. I have learned that what I really need to survive painful days is very simple- the presence of someone who loves me. That’s it. And since I have no illusions that I am unique, I think that’s what we all need when life beats us up. The presence of a loved one, or two, if we’re lucky.

There is profound mystery in this truth. What is it about having someone we love sit with us, cry with us or buy us a hamburger and eat it with us that makes life tolerable? And how is it that an invisible God can let us know he’s there too? I haven’t a clue.

Presence of loved ones. That is what each of us needs when the s*#!t hits the fan. We need arms and hugs and hamburgers. Here’s my question. If we need this, why don’t we practice this? Think about your days. How often do you see someone, really see them? How often do you call someone simply to enjoy his/her company? Probably rarely, if at all. Does this make sense to you? Does it make sense that we put so little effort into doing the things which we really need and watch television, check emails or write on friends’ Facebook walls instead?

Learning to share the presence of a loved one is one (if not the) most important things we must do to survive. This is not only true for us, it is true for our kids as well. The question for each of us parents is, ‘Are we making sure that we are teaching our kids how to be with loved ones?’ or are we making sure that they are constantly entertained, fulfilled or having their self esteem bolstered by improving an athletic or academic skill set? I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that life will sting my own kids as they get older and I want to make sure that they’ll know how to get through those tough days. They might be seeing more of me- and a few of their close friends- in the near future.


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