Monday, September 9, 2013

The anatomy of a hug...

I am a reader. Beyond books, magazines and the back of cereal boxes, I find myself trying to read everything - tones, eyes, expressions, inflections. For me very few thinks are completely revelatory at the surface. But the problem with being a reader of things beyond words is there is a LOT of room for misconception. (And for the record words can get pretty confusing too in places like emails, social media and even lovely little blogs like this one.)

But yesterday I found myself finding a hug quite the easy thing to read. Or so I think.

Can you relate? Have you had that awkward forced hug? You've felt the insincerity of it, right? I remember a lot of those in high school. You know the hug I mean, the one where the hugger is pushing back from you before they even pull all the way in. It read with insincerity and obligation. Sometimes they speak separation or dissension.

Not all awkward hugs are that way though. My husband is a hugger, and I watch him reach around in some weird directions to hug a friend. But I know whoever is on the receiving end of my husband's hug finds true kindness, true concern. He's a good hugger.
When I hug Neal it's usually different for me. Though he's no repel-er with even a friend or one of my kids friends, when I stop to hug my hubby, I really sink into it. I lay my head on his chest and I rest there. I am not a hugger, so when I hug my husband, I do it with purpose. He lets me melt into him when I hug him. My hug says need, and his appropriately replies provision. It's probably my favorite kind of hug.

Although I am not a touchy-feely person, I like hugging my kiddos too. My daughter hugs me like I hug her dad. She settles in and rests her head on my chest (though she is so tall now it's really more on my shoulder. My younger son is an awkward goofy hugger. It's that middle school age for him - and when he hugs me there is often a little repelling if I am the pursuer, but if he's made a mistake or done something wrong, he comes looking for a hug. His hug speaks repentance, mine speaks forgiveness. My oldest is a man (gulp) and his hugs are big - he is his father's son. And when he hugs me it speaks of the transition he has made from boy to man, but there still remains some of the little boy lingering inside him, and his hugs speak love (and sometimes self-preservation since I like to pinch his nipples.)

Sometimes a hug speaks friendship, it says "I miss you" or "I want to know you more." Yesterday I got a hug that said, "I see you are hurting. And I care." Not a word was spoken, but that's what the unexpected hug spoke to me. I could tear up now even thinking about it.

Hugs are important. There is a woman I used to know who probably could have built an entire ministry out of hugs. Her hugs were awkward always because she wouldn't let go for a good long time. She held on till you relaxed and settled into the hug. Even when she was finished, you still felt hugged, and you knew someone cared. That's a little how my hug was yesterday, though more awkward and brief - that's what it spoke to me.

I miss the hugs in my life that I once had, which is probably why I have settled into a lot more of my hubby's hugs in recent days, and why I am more willing to hold on to my kids when I can. Hugs are important, and they can speak so much more than a thousand words.

I wish we could feel the hug of our heavenly Father every day. I once had a supernatural experience that was that real, but those are few and far between. So I think it's important that we do His hugging on His behalf. People need to know we care, and they need to feel loved and important. That's what a hug is all about.

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