Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker

See It and Be It: Finding Meaning in Pain

Recently, I was working to raise awareness about a key issue that I felt was leading to unfair treatment of many and to inappropriate decisions being made. As I talked to others about this and attempted to rally people to come together and speak with a unified voice, someone told me that we can’t effect change, that people in power have already made decisions and we might as well just sit back and accept that.

I refuse to live my life that way. I am a person of hope; deep inside I believe with all of my heart that we can change the world for the better. And I believe it because I see it happening everyday around me in big ways and in small ones. In the See It & Be It series, in addition to sharing stories of people doing jobs you may love, I want to introduce you to people who are world changers, people like Serge Gasore. I hope that as we see these examples of adults, children, and families who are making this world a better place, each of us will look into our own hearts and search for ways that we can become world changers as well.

There is a little boy in our community named Liam Lowe. Liam was diagnosed with leukemia in November of 2010.  Since then, he has received a lot of chemotherapy and radiation, a stem cell transplant, and an NK-cell treatment.  Liam was in remission for a awhile but relapsed in July 2011. He was recently at a world renowned hospital where his family was encouraged to bring him home for hospice care. Right now, Liam is not doing well.

As Liam’s father, Matt, wrote on Liam’s Wells Project page, “After his first relapse, in an attempt to make each day as meaningful as it could be, we decided that every day in the hospital should include three important things: learning something, making something and loving someone. After one conversation about how to love people, we ended up at the Water Project’s website, and Liam started raising money to dig wells for people who have no clean water. In just a few weeks, more than 200 people had contributed over $16,000, and in October two wells were completed, both in Kenya.”

Since then, many people have wanted to continue to support Liam’s Wells Project. As Liam is struggling, he and his family are determined to allow him to find something meaningful that he can do. Liam is currently in the process of raising money to build more wells for those desperately in need of clean water.

As Liam and his family struggle with the pain of his illness, they also seek to find meaning in this life that he is living. Liam has led the charge to provide clean water for these communities in need, and has been successful in funding two wells. Liam is an inspiration to me. He, in his small, frail, body, stands straight up against the belief that we may as well sit back and just let life be. No, Liam’s life says, I will make a mark on this world, I will make it better, even if I am only here for a short time, even if I am struggling with my own pain and illness.

I call you to let people like Liam inspire you to find meaning in your own life. You have the ability to make this world a better place, whether that’s through being a friend to someone in need, reaching out to someone new in your community, or using your talents in a big way. Making the world better isn’t about doing something that everyone notices, it doesn’t have to be about being famous or well-known. Making the world better happens in those small, everyday decisions that we make to live with grace and love toward those around us. Allow yourself to be a person of hope, a person who finds meaning in life, even in times of pain.

If you would like to help Liam fund more wells for communities that need clean water, You can visit his page at http://thewaterproject.org/community/profile/liams-wells

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2 comments on “See It and Be It: Finding Meaning in Pain

  1. naomi
    December 17, 2011

    Yes there are people changers and what really amazes me is many of those life changers are children who are seriously ill trying to change the lives of others. Liam I wish you every success with your project and you make people realise they can make a difference

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      December 17, 2011

      I agree, Naomi. Watching the way that this little boy has sought meaning even in this situation is so touching for so many.

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