"I cried a tear
You wiped it dry
I was confused
You cleared my mind
I sold my soul
You bought it back for me
And held me up and gave me dignity
Somehow you needed me…"
- Randy Goodrun
I know that I used the lyrics to this song, released by Anne Murray in 1978, "You Needed Me" in an earlier post, but its message has come with fresh new inspiration this week as I've watched campers and counselors helping one another prepare for their three-day out camp trips. When this song first played over the radio in the late 70s, it quickly shot up the charts. I loved this song…it was easy to sing along with and it perfectly described the kind of relationship I longed for. But it confused me…a lot. My friends thought I was being particularly nit-picky about the lyrics. "It's just a great song, leave it at that and enjoy it," they'd say. But I couldn't…something about it nagged at me. And as anyone who reads this blog knows, I am all about "getting the message" when it comes to lyrics.
It has taken me a long time to realize that what bothered me about the lyrics was the title and those two lines at the end of the chorus, "You needed me, you needed me…" It didn't make sense. If I cry a tear and you wipe it dry, why do you need me…wouldn't it be me that needs you? As you can see this was not something I was going to leave alone and just sing along with mindlessly at a hootenanny.
I can't tell you the number of nights I lay awake through the late 70s and early 80s wondering about this very riddle. But thinking about it this week...through the lens of motherhood and as a spiritual healer...has helped me understand its message in a new way.
Mary Baker Eddy, in her book Science and Health, gave me one of my first clues to solving this puzzle when she wrote, "…seeking one's own, in another's good." I can only find my own goodness in that I am helping you discover yours. And isn't this what motherhood and the practice of spiritual healing are all about? Helping another…a child, a patient, a spouse or a friend…discover their own wholeness, purity, goodness, peace, and in doing so we begin to glimpse our own best selves in operation. I need my child to let me comfort her to discover that I have an unlimited well of tenderness to share. I need a patient to call on me to sit at their bedside in the middle of the night…prayerfully bearing witness to their wholeness…in order to discover my own unselfishness and inner strength. I need the laboratory of another's need for help, to discover that I really am kind and good…and capable of getting outside of myself.
"…You held my hand
When it was cold
When I was lost
You took me home
You gave me hope
When I was at the end
And turned my lies
Back into truth again
You even called me friend
You needed me
You needed me…"
I cannot be the best me…without you.
I think this is why the Lord's Prayer is all written in the language of relationships. It doesn't say "My Father which art in heaven" or "Give me this day my daily bread"…it uses inclusive pronouns like "our, we, and us". We can only unearth the very best in ourselves in the context of the way we respond to, and treat, others.
We often think that children are the ones who really need their parents…but I think on a more vital level we, as parents, need our children.
It reminds me of a story from my childhood. I was about 12 years old when my mother found herself unable to walk. She seemed to be paralyzed from the waist down. My dad would sit her in a chair in the morning where she could see what was going on in all directions in our small ranch house and my sister and I would help her care for the four younger children during the day. She would instruct us and we would carry out her wishes.
On about day three we woke to find mom already in the chair and began getting everything ready for breakfast. I had put a selection of cereal boxes on the kitchen table and was called to help my younger sister down the hall. My younger brother, who was only about six at the time, didn't like the cereal choices and decided to climb onto the kitchen counter to get a different box from the highest shelf in an upper cupboard. Mother had a full view of the kitchen from her chair, but had become distracted by something in the other direction and when she looked back she saw Wayde standing on the edge of the counter while trying to open the cupboard doors. He was about to fall backwards off the high kitchen counter when mother flew out of her chair to catch him.
That was the end of her paralysis.
Today I relish every call for help, every request for assistance, every opportunity to practice random acts of kindness…
Thank you to anyone who has ever needed me. You have helped me discover that I am more than I ever imagined I could be and less selfish than I might have become.
I am so grateful…