I hugged the Campaigners girls after Bible study ended, telling them to be careful and making sure to squeeze through each hug. Some people are “huggers”. Totally familiar with the gesture. Others hold their bodies back slightly, receiving in the slightest, but only to appease their huggee. For both types, I am always certain to hold tight, just a moment or two past their release cue. Hugs have taken the place of handshakes these days, and the hug value seems to have depreciated. For me, one single hug might be as exciting as a 2 dollar bill. It may only be worth $2, but if I receive a $2 bill from someone, I’m keeping that for sure!
The military life has taught me how to hug tighter. I learned it first with my husband, then with my children, and now with my friends and in my ministry. My hugs say so much more than “hello” and “goodbye”. The last time I hugged my husband, it said, “Please don’t go. I know you have to go, but I want you to stay. Please be safe. I know you have to protect other soldiers, but please come home to me. Please talk to God. I know you can’t talk to me, but please talk to someone. Please know that I love you and will never stop loving you. Please know that I’m praying for you and will never stop praying for you.” The last time I hugged my children, my hug said, “Do you have any idea how proud of you I really am? Do you know how much I would rather be cuddling with you, watching you fall asleep rather than doing anything else right now? Please know my love. Please know God’s love. Please be confident in yourself. Please trust me, because I really do want the best for you.” The last hug that I gave out tonight said, “Please, please, please be safe. Please know that you are far more precious than you could ever dream. Please see who you are through God’s eyes. Please know that you were created for a purpose so much bigger than your yesterday’s and tomorrow’s. Know that I love you, and I hope that my love and words make an impact on you.”
There are no “goodbyes” in my hugs. A hug is an embrace of excitement! Feelings of joy and overflowing enthusiasm. Intentions, thoughts, and plans wrapped inside of arms spread wide and drawing in acceptance. Reaching out, saying “I’m coming to you. I’m going to meet you right where you’re at.” Moving in and pulling toward me at the same time saying, “You’re welcome to experience my moment with me, and I would love nothing more than to experience your moment with you.” Our moments on this earth and in this life are numbered, so we need to choose carefully who we offer these precious, fleeting specs of time to. We have to make every moment count, and a hug is the perfect combination of desperately sought-after opportunities. It speaks without using words. It sends a message through time and space that can sew wounds, smooth scars, and link two opposite planes. There is a war on each surface, and the battlefields don’t touch, but the warriors are connected through similar hearts that long to love and be loved.
I wish we could bring back the full value of a hug. Maybe we can. Maybe if we love a little more, through every embrace, maybe if I love a little longer through my squeezes…maybe it’ll touch one person enough to make them want to do the same. Maybe we could pay it forward with our enveloping arms and open palms. If we can each make one person feel a little more loved, and they can do the same…wouldn’t we be fulfilling so much more than words could ever dream to achieve? Am I thinking too much into this? Maybe I just miss being hugged by my husband…or maybe I can sense the hugs being missed in others who feel that same longing. Regardless of the reasoning, I’ve learned the lesson nonetheless. To hug and to be hugged: that is the answer.