Hug me, Hug me...Say that you'll hug me!

I've always been a stuffed animal and pet person. It's because I'm a hugger. Now, for those who don't know me well you'd never guess my appreciation for the one on one full body blanket. And when I say hug I am definitely not referring to the polite one hand on a back reciprocated. I'm talking practically lifting the feet off the ground, but not, type of hug. I see a hug as proof of trust and I like to show people how important that trust is to me. So I hug hard and don't let go.
Now, I believe there is power in a hug; positive and encouraging power. Sounds corny and I hate corny so I'm sorry about that. But I was reminded of my love, and extreme need, for hugs today when I was feeling down. My family has been down a lot lately. We've been down together though so it's not so bad but when I need a healing hug, I don't want to take the good mojo from someone else who's down. Not everyone is a healing hugger. So I'm sitting on a blue chair needing a hug and one of 4 opportunities is nestling around my feet. I grab the little recipient and don't let go. He's not particularly crazy about the love abuse but he's kind, so he cooperates. Small meows turn into purrs and my hug is rewarded, dissolving my bad mood immediately. Power. When I was a child I would mangle my Pound Puppy, 3 foot tall stuffed gorilla, Cabbage Patch Doll (I can still smell the baby powder thinking about her) and any unfortunate pet we had that didn't try to bite, with hugs. I understood the power then, I just didn't know that Jesus was associated with the equation. I know now. Whether you're a hugger or not, you have a release agent of your own. You write, quilt, build, demolish, sing, dance...you get the idea. Mine is hugs. Nothing is more healing to me than being taken hold of and being able to hold in return. And I've been fortunate enough to have known a few good huggers in my day. I have a couple girlfriends that are 'whole' huggers; they are unhalting and all of their defenses are down when we hug. It's how I know I can trust them and it brings my trust out even more. Without this type of release my emotional, spiritual and physical health would suffer severely. I believe it works the same way for them if they let it. Sadly though, not everyone reciprocates our actions for the same reasons. There are people who appear to be 'whole' huggers but have alterior objectives. They feign unconditional trust in order to get a foot in the door to take advantage in another area of our lives. I've come to accept this as reality and my hugs toward these people are more defensive and not at all satisfying. I dislike those hugs intensely. It's a distortion of something I hold dear but I've learned that there is risk in relating with other humans. This is where I found Jesus in the mix. Never have a met a better hugger than Him. (Stay with me.) He's the one who taught me about 'whole' hugging. He's the only reason I can fully trust another person. Not through convincing me that people can be trusted, I know that's not true, but through convincing me that it's worth the risk to extend out my arms, making myself vulnerable emotionally and physically, in order to introduce or reaffirm the unconditional trust that Jesus has used to complete me. I've had friends that were sincere and 'whole' huggers for years until one day when I wasn't looking, the knife fell and I was wounded. I was crippled emotionally and my hugs were guarded towards everone. But Jesus reminded me that I needed to open up again so he gave me cats and a husband and yes, a few stuffed animals. I practiced my hugging again and was made ready to be vulnerable to the rest of the world. Jesus. How do I know it was Him? I'm asked this question often and every area of my life has been addressed by it. The answer is always the same. I know because it's not me and He's the one to whom I've handed over my life. I'm not steady in my thinking and the thinking that comforts me is always steady and sure. I'm not strong in any respect aside from faith and that is often fickle. But when I fall back I'm caught every time. When I say 'fall back' I mean surrender. No, it's not easy and yes it can be dangerous but not if you know that the net is there and it itself is telling you to fall. Does it sound risky to you? It sounds not only risky but crazy to most of the people in my life. So they watch, usually expecting me to break my metaphorical ankles, buck up and realize that God doesn't work that way. Fortunately, although they are watching for disaster, they end up witnessing the awesome reality that at the bottom of the precipice my ankles don't absorb the impact. Caught and placed back onto this shaky ground into my own busted out sneakers, I fall but never hit. That's not something I can do on my own.
So he's convinced me to be a hugger. It heals me and introduces trust to others. It's the best way I have found to display the real Christ that lives in me. I write and draw and converse but none of it takes as much risk as a hug. And after all, what do I have to lose? He can't be torn from me and noone will ever turn my trust from Him. His hugs are even stronger than mine.


.....so in my brilliantly faithful walk amongst the plans and poems of man, I prove faithless. Wow, what a shocker.
I readjust my course and sit down to the map. Joshua 1:9; so familiar! It must've been mentioned in sermons, background conversations and dinner table discussions over thirty times in my recent recall. It's actually become so familiar that when I stumble upon it in different versions, my eyes automatically reread it and then glance up to recall what book and chapter I'm in. Oh yeah, Joshua!
I don't read the Old Testament often. Okay, I don't pick my Bible up 1/5 the amount of times I intend to. I fear it. I should explain. I love the Bible because I very much desire truth. No problem there. What I fear is complacency. I won't be a Christian that begins her walk at 7:35 and by 8 or even 11:00 she's ready to punch out of this job and clock into her real life. I guess that's why I don't like routines or traditions. Admittedly, it's flawed logic but it's intention has nobility. I don't want any movement I make to be without purpose. Things lose their value to me when they become just another part of my day. As a
matter of fact, I don't say "I love you" to my family members as part of a routine because of that very fear. They know I love them through my actions and my carefully placed words (including "I love you") but I work to treasure and make treasured by others my actions. It's not that I don't believe in Bible study on a regular basis, I just know myself well enough to know that routines are traps for me. And so here I am, sitting on the sofa with a tiger kitten to my right and a keyboard on my lap sketching in words the redirection of my course. All this time I thought I was walking down the sidewalk he mentioned and it turns out I'm not even in the right town! I'm so glad He whispers. I haven't been turned into a pile of rejected human compost in the middle of this foreign sidewalk.
"Psst, Crissy it's this way."
Oh Daddy, What to do with me?!


Deep breath out. That's how I know when I'm destressing. I learned it as a yoga technique....inhale through the nose, deep breath pushing it all out the mouth. It's involuntary anymore, and now it lets everyone know that what I am dealing with needs to be released, without my wanting anyone to know. "Why are you stressed?" he'll ask 'cause he's kind and genuinely concerned. I like him. I won't usually know what the stressor is at that particular minute...my body just knew what it needed and...deep breath out. Now, we're not talking just a sigh. That would be normal and not too noteworthy. We're talking about my mouth rounding into an 'O' and blowing the deep breath out...with sounds and all. I don't even know I'm doing it until it's done and at least one eye is attracted to the possible cry for attention. I suppose the problem with having involuntary actions cleansing my emotional system is that I can't often grasp at what I needed help releasing. Is that even a problem? Yes, (my psychology courses taunt me) for if I'm not aware of the root of my stress I will continue to ...deep breath out...until I hyperventilate and although momentarily the stress is gone, the stressor is not. So we dig. We dig up the unresolved issues of earlier days and blend them together with obvious 'today' responsibilities and somewhere in the middle of all of this we find the ugly little problem. Sometimes it's removable. Often it's painfully deep within the skin....deep breath out. And he talks to me. And he makes me talk, and he talks again and I love to listen and we'll pass through hours without my having to take any breaths at all. And morning will be breaking so we give in to our human need for sleep and I'll wait a bit until I hear his breathing. It's then that I see God and his hand stroking our hair, and Iremember to thank Him and assure Him that next time I'll remember to turn to Him for peace before the ugly little problem begins to fester.
But I don't...deep breath out.


I wait for the sun to turn his back and I try to find meaning in today. What monumental achievements have been accomplished through me on this Thursday during this April? Scrabble? Not much depth there. I just heated up some pizza! Yummy, but not exactly life changing. I've saved no lives, inspired no great actions or contributed to any significant causes in the course of today. I did convey the miracles of my week to my Scrabble partner; my Christian sister. I smiled at my teen when he asked me for some late night snacks. I put a few seconds aside to stop my husband from his work so I could kiss him. Long term effects? Life changing moments? Not likely. We're sane though, in insane times. My friends and family know my love for them. God's presence is so alive in my life I find myself gushing about how He catches me to the church pianist as we're placing letter tiles.

My life is challenging. Not 9-5 challenge or the fear of adultery challenge or even the crippling temptations challenge. Just my trials that weigh on my soul alone. That of course being the most difficult part to bear. But then He taps me on the shoulder and reminds me of the boys in the living room- the boys I can't imagine life without. And He draws my attention to the 20 pound tiger cat sprawled out on my side of the bed and I can't help but giggle.
I giggle a lot. I'm known for my uncontrollable laughter.
I suppose that reflection of my soul is the most accurate.


Just another...

So once again I don't do what I know to do and it once again appears to leave no blame on me. Funny. And I begin to look closer at the circumstances that are me and my function and something has halted progress. A boulder in my road has blocked my path. It's not a particularly large boulder; I could climb over it if I only put a little effort into it. But I choose to stand in front of it, cursing the responsible party for this outrageous waste of my time. I stand and stare at the rock. Waiting for it to be moved or to roll out of my way of it's own accord or perhaps someone will come pick me up, put me on their back as they crawl over this easily surrmountable hurdle; all these are acceptable scenarios for this monumental inconvienence. I stood and stared at the rock.