At my local women’s Bible study, an elderly widow stood up. In tears, she timidly let out a secret. “I miss my husband and nobody touches me anymore. I come here hoping someone will squeeze my hand or hold my shoulder once a week,” she said, “Young women, widows need more hugs.”
I cried. This was a woman whose physical needs were met. She was not hungry, afraid or oppressed. In fact, compared to widows around the world and throughout history, she was doing quite well. Some advocates for social justice issues might overlook her in order to channel their best efforts toward the greatest need. But her unseen longing for affection was a need worth meeting.
When I heard this woman’s testimony, I asked God to connect me with a local widow. Not to repair her house or coordinate her meals or defend her rights, but simply to hug and spend time fellowshipping with her.
When my little children and I visited an 84-year-old woman’s home the first of many times, I was looking forward to selflessly meeting her need. But my new friend ended up simultaneously meeting a need in me that I didn’t even know I had! I needed to sit under the influence of a seasoned Christian woman. She became my mentor and our meetings, as I wrote in a thank you note to her two years later, were “always brim-full of wisdom, encouragement, scripture, faith, humor, grace, hope and oh lots of other wonderful things.” Sitting at her kitchen table, I learned that not only were her seemingly small needs worth meeting, mine were too.
I’m a mom of small children. I have no lack of physical touch, but this phase of motherhood can be isolating. I never believed that, when so many needed so much, meeting my need for affirmation and wise instruction was worth someone else’s time. I reasoned, I am not a single mom or a teenager… my children are well fed and fully clothed… I suffer no abuse or injustice. So for a long time I kept quiet and guilted myself for any tears.
You may have read my post about my friend Sue who opened her home to me and several moms giving us the rest and fellowship we really needed. My mentor’s teaching combined with my friend’s example have shown me that everyone needs an upholder.
You too might know what it is like to discount your own struggles. A widow and I showed each other that both of our needs, however small they may feel to us or insignificant they may look to others, are real and really worth meeting. So hug widows. Invite one to coffee and let yourself be blessed at the same time.