The worst is not knowing whether or not to hug somebody. You see somebody you love, value and perhaps miss dearly; you smile widely and move forward to . . . second guess yourself.
|Photo by Joi Ito|
I do this. I ruin hugs. I rush toward them and then I hesitate,
“Are we 'huggin' friends?” I wonder at the worst moment possible, “Is this ok?” “Will this make them uncomfortable?” “Will it ruin everything?”
Now I've waited too long and it's awkward either way.
I ought to be honest with myself. I've never lost a friend because I hugged them. Only once in all of my memory have I hugged a person and known it was a mistake. They didn't want my hug. In my defense we went from hugging friends to non-hugging friends overnight via hearsay and gossip. Not my bad. They hugged back though, but their body language told me not to hug that guy again.
Hugs are seldom mistakes, still I hesitate though my pro-hug instincts tell me I've left friends in need without the hugs they craved.
Humans need hugs. You've probably heard that babies face huge challenges when deprived of touch. A human being's need for physical contact doesn't evaporate once they learn to walk. We all need touch. We need hugs. I'm in the camp that recommends 12 a day.
Hugs. I need hugs; I love them - but I'm so awkward. I love people, but I get so stupid self-conscious that I talk myself out of hugging. I'm terrified they'll be all weird because I busted out the hugs, despite the fact that this has literally never happened.
“Don't be weird about this” I tell myself. “They like you.”
I love hugging-friends. I don't mean just my friends I hug regularly. I love them, but I especially appreciate those friends who hug no matter what the time and place are. I love their confidence. They never sneak hug, side hug, one arm, or awkwardly hug too slowly or for too long. These are friends for whom hugs are a special ministry. They remind me that I'm OK, and that touch is good.
I am not yet one of these people. I don't have the joy that they do. The hugs they give are given liberally and lovingly. My hugs smack of a fear of rejection. This is a shortcoming. This is not God's will for me; scripture says perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). Slowly but surely God is getting me there. I can count on Jesus for that.
You see, Jesus touched the untouchables. He was a hugger. He was a hugging-friend. He IS a hugging-friend. He's not afraid of our rejection, but liberally offers his heart to anyone. Jesus loves us without hesitation, judgement or fear. Despite our resistance to him, Jesus never hesitates to bring us into his arms.
I'm held back by fear, but knowing God's love helps me move forward. What keeps you from passing that love forward? What gives you courage?