by Peter Waite
I just finished reading an amazing book, The Message by Lance Richardson, about one man's near death experience and the lessons he learned from it. I know what you're saying, "You need find lighter reading Peter!" Maybe so. After all, I've been known to read a lot of long, very dry non-fiction books. But this book is different, I promise! It's a short and easy read. But what makes it really stand out is the message it shares of love, hope, and the realization that we are all connected.
The story is about Lance Richardson who struggled most of his adult life with Crohn's Disease. He describes the demands that his chronic illness placed on his young family, a lot of which I can easily relate to. Already in frail health, on Christmas Day in 1998, Lance was involved in a motorcycle accident which later left him in a coma for several weeks. While his body was being kept alive by life support equipment, he describes his experience about life after death and his spirit passing into the world beyond. The author is a Christian and writes from a faith-based perspective but the message it shares is not necessarily religious.
The message Lance brought back is a message of love, service, and the lasting bonds of human relationships. In short, life has little meaning without the relationships we make here and now. The way build and sustain relationships is through love and service. Here's my favorite quote from the book:
Service is the action form of loving one another. When you truly love someone, you seek to serve them. Your concerns are for their happiness and welfare.
This really struck a chord with me. I've long believed that service is what life is really all about. I've learned from personal experience that selflessness and service does two things to you. It lightens your own burdens simply by looking beyond your own troubles and focusing on the needs of others. Suddenly challenges you face don't feel so overwhelming and daunting. And it strengthens your relationships in a lasting and more meaningful way.
Every day I am inspired by the selfless service of people like you who offer support to others struggling with chronic illness or other personal challenges. The HealingWell forums are filled with so many awesome people! Yes, that kind of service is virtual, but that doesn't make it any less meaningful to the person being served. It is important that we reach out to our "real" neighbors, friends, family, and even strangers too.
We are all connected.
Peter Waite, M.S., M.A. is founder and CEO of HealingWell.com, and holds graduate degrees from Utah State University and Brandeis University. Founded in 1997, HealingWell.com is the foremost support community on diseases, conditions, and chronic illness. HealingWell.com has been featured by BBC Online, USA Today, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Industry Standard, Reader's Digest, PBS.org, Forbes.com, and USA Weekend Magazine. HealingWell.com has also been the recipient of numerous health industry awards. He enjoys spending his free time with his wife and four children.