Because life is hard, I believe in the power of connectedness. Not connection—suggesting a link between two items or things. Connectedness, rather, implies multiple connections. Think of many hubs each with many spokes, each spoke reaching out and making a link to one or more other hubs.
Life is hard. Don’t let media images of the carefree college student life fool you. Students today face enormous stresses. Parents who demand perfection, faculty who seem to increase their work load each day, personal relationships that take more than they return. And this doesn’t begin to include worry over their own personal stake in the mounting student debt load!
Life is hard. Take the case of a former student of mine, a young man I’ll call Kyle. In less than four weeks he went through a lifetime of grief. He watched his friend and roommate attempt to take his own life; he went back to his hometown for the funeral of a close high school friend; he returned only to endure the death of another friend, this one from campus. After the first two events, he was in my office to explain his absence from class. I could offer him a tissue, some schedule relief on an upcoming assignment, and a sympathetic ear. After he returned to class, I watched as his personal appearance slumped downward and his steps got more plodding. Two weeks earlier, I would have been more hesitant on this next point than I was, but the time seemed ripe. I then offered him my prayers and those of others. I told him that, in fact, I had asked my congregation’s prayers for “my student who is having a hard time.” This self-described (almost an) atheist nearly swooned in gratitude. “Thank you. I need them.”
Life is hard. I was grateful in this situation for the people at the TCU Counseling Center, capable of doing so much more professionally for Kyle than I could, as well as other staff on campus, many of whom could both be another set of ears and help him maneuver through the bureaucracy in order to get the proper help.
The hubs and spokes are already all around us. I believe that’s the kind of world God created for us. Sometimes we’ll be the ones supported in the strong joint created by a spoke and a hub; other times we’ll join with additional hubs and spokes to become the support.
Life is hard. Don’t let others do it alone.
Life is hard. Don’t try to do it alone.
Nadia Lahutsky has taught for 34 years in the TCU Religion Department, where she is currently Chair. A graduate of Hiram College and Vanderbilt University, she is an historian of Christianity, with a special interest in modern Roman Catholicism. She has been married for nearly 40 years to Edward McMahon, New Testament scholar, and is the proud mother of Jean McMahon, a doctoral student in social psychology.