The children spend all day imagining other worlds, playing out stories, and synthesizing a nonsensical beauty out of the most unlikely objects. They’re about my feet as I do my household tasks, and I get such a unique look into their individual personalities, weaknesses, and strengths. Inevitably, usually in the afternoon, a child comes in search of hugs and snuggles, and I’m happy to oblige. It occurs to me how very blessed I am to be surrounded by the love of my children.
Before we were married, my now-husband and I had our share of petty arguments, the worst of which was over a chicken nugget. Ridiculous, I know. But when you’re young and you don’t know how to let go of unimportant things, you pick a random thing to blow way out of proportion and fight about for hours. And I’m willing to bet most couples have at least one argument about a completely stupid thing. Anyway, I digress. I had this great knack for choosing an unimportant issue and wrapping up all my anger, pain, and fears from past circumstances that really had nothing to do with our present disagreement, and when we got to it, I could really unleash a furious bundle of crazy on my sweetheart. More than once, when he didn’t know quite what to do, he would just wrap his arms around me and hold me in a tight hug while I fought him and cried and stomped my feet in protest. He just held on, firm but tender, until I worked it out. I fell in love with his ability to disarm me…to meet me in my heartaches and tantrums and just be there with me until I was through…in a hug that reminded me of his love, his patience, and his willingness to journey through my emotional baggage.
Over the years, I’ve watched friends in different situations, braving the storms of their lives with courage and bravado on the outside, only to realize that my unmarried friend in the middle of grad school, and my mom-friend going through a tough divorce, and my own amazing mama go for weeks or months on end without a real hug that whispers love and reminds them of how infinitely valuable they are. I’ve come to believe that a hug can go a long way for someone who has been feeling very alone. It can bring comfort where comfort is sorely needed. For cancer-mamas who worry about whether their children will live. For working mamas who spend every ounce of energy they have to be a superhero to all and stay-at-home mamas in the trenches who are at risk for forgetting what it is like to be a woman not covered in snot, spit up, and poop. For women who have longed for a baby but whose arms are still empty. It’s great to smile at people to brighten their day, but a smile is cheap compared to a hug. A hug costs something…not money, but courage to step over the invisible barrier that keeps us all safely inside our own comfort zones, to say “I am really here for you, even in the mess.” And even if the people around you look put-together, you just never know what someone is really going through in their private life.
If you’re in a tough season, I want to send out a virtual hug. If you live close, I’m good for a real hug any ol’ time. And if you are someone who just wants to encourage someone else, find someone to hug today! You might just bring encouragement to them at just the right time.
Has there ever been a time when an unexpected hug has impacted you?