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.