I come from a long line of NON-huggers. My parents didn't hug us much after we were out of elementary school. My extended family doesn't hug and when we do ~ at weddings or events, it is awkward and "strange" for us. As I've shared in the past...I have walls around me that are NOT completely down yet (guess where they came from) and when people, I don't know at all, scale those walls and step into my space...to hug me...it freaks me out!
I have a friend at church that has missed quite a bit with a child who had been very sick. I say friend, though we really haven’t spent time together outside of church, we have this “connection” that goes beyond words. We are “spiritual sisters,” at least that’s how I can best explain it. I don’t know if you have ever had this kind of “friendship”, but it is unique in my experience and there are only a handful of people that I connect with beyond regular face-to-face interactions to this level.
One of the things I love most about her is her ability to openly show love. It's as though God has placed us together to blend our differences and teach us both. She is weak in her self-esteem. I am STRONG in this area. I am weak in openly showing love. She is STRONG in this area. It works…
I see her come in today and I always eventually meander my way to her side of the room and she always hugs me. Every person alive knows the language of “hugs”. The hugs I’ve experienced include:
The slap-on-the-back but hold bodies’ apart hug,
The quick embrace with shoulders touching hug,
The stand by my side put an arm over my shoulder and squeeze hug,
The shoulder grab-kiss-on-both-cheeks that the Europeans taught us, hug.
The quick, non-squeezing, non-committal, acquaintance hug,
The bear hug,
The manly slamming of the chests while mid-air hug,
And…finally…the I love you, my friend, and I will hold on to you hug!
This last hug is what I got this morning. This hug was so uncomfortable at first. It was NOT what I was USED to and it was not comfortable. Now, this hug means so much to me. As you may have gathered, I’m not a touchy-feely kind of friend. I CAN hug my friends and I do…but it’s typically quick and painless and fairly nondescript. When this friend hugs me, every single time, I walk away feeling like I am truly loved. I have value in her life. She cares for me.
The thing I learn most from her is her ability to offer this 'gift' in the midst of her own suffering. She has literally been through HELL this year in so many ways. She has had trial after trial after trial in her life...in all areas of her life…yet she continues to offer this love openly and freely to her friends. I am so blessed to be one of them. God knew this is a person I needed in my life if for no other reason then to show me a true friend hug!
I am going to work on my “hugs” this week and I pray I can offer to my friends and to the people I encounter the kind of hug I would WANT. I pray God would bring someone to me that is LIKE me...with walls and all...that I could hug and love as only He has shown me through others.