Hug Like You Mean It

My friend Kelley gives the best hugs.

They are strong, completely enveloping embraces. You know you have been hugged.

I remember the first time she hugged me. I was actually taken a little aback by the forcefulness of it. But something inside me immediately connected with her through that hug.

It resonated with my need to be accepted. To belong. To be loved.

We were no longer just peripheral friends because our husbands were fraternity brothers. In that moment, in that hug, we were sisters. I don’t see this friend nearly enough; we live across the country from each other. But she changed my life with her hug and she taught me how I want to hug.

Hugging breaks the space barrier, connects us, and invites intimacy. Not just the kind between husband and wife, but an intimacy of the heart that connects one with another and transcends time, distance, and circumstances. That is how powerful a good hug can be.

Children instinctively understand this need for connection. They know the power of a good hug. They know they will find security, strength, comfort and love within the embrace of their parent. They find joy in the simple act of running over to give and receive a hug even in the middle of playing.

I have given and received many a perfunctory hug and I wonder – why hug at all? We could just shake hands. Hugs should convey something more than just “Hey – saw you in the hall and thought I’d say hello.”

I want my hug to mean more than that.

I want my hug to tell you “I am so glad to see you! This makes my day.”

I want my hug to offer you shelter in the storms of life. I want it to be an embrace you can step into and feel the Lord’s protection surround you. I want you to be able to draw strength from it.

I want my hug to tell you I’m sorry that I have been so difficult. I want my hug to say thank you for loving me anyway.

I want my hug to communicate that my heart hurts along with yours in the loss of your mom.

I want my hug to celebrate the joys of life milestones with you.

I want my hug to tell you that I am going to miss you but that you will never be far from my heart.

Mostly, I want my hug to tell you that you are accepted. You belong. You are loved.

I wonder if Jesus hugged His disciples. I don’t know. We know many of His miracles came through His touch. But did He hug his disciples? I think maybe He did. And I feel certain that when He embraced them it was strong, it was complete, and they knew they had been hugged.

There is power that comes from a good hug.

Hug someone today – like you mean it!