I curled Adela's little body into my lap and squeezed her tight. She smiled at me and giggled. We both know that she is rapidly getting bigger and that body doesn't fit into my arms as neatly as it did. But, never mind, hugs are often the glue that keeps our hearts intact these days. I held her tight to me.
Touch is so powerful, isn't it?
I cannot count the number of times in my life that a hug has made me feel stable when my world was rocky. A single kiss from my husband confirms ours affection and deep love for each other. The warm grasp of a friend's hand relays sympathy or shares in my joy.
But physical touch is not for all of us. It just isn't. I know several sweet friends who simply "aren't huggers". For them, physical touch does not relay that deepness of caring. These people are impacted more by heartfelt words and actions than they ever could be if someone held their hand.
In the four gospel books of the Bible--Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John--I am struck by how much Jesus' life on earth was full of touch. He used touch to heal the sick, lame, and the blind. He touched through the loving praises of the faith of believers and the tender innocence of children. He touched through service as he fed thousands and washed the feet of His disciples. He was constantly touching others.
What about us? How much do I withdraw into myself on those bad days and feel my skin too prickly and my words to be full of anger? How much do I resent providing for the needs of my family and do my work with half a heart? What is my touch like to those around me?
But I am learning something amazing about touch.
Today I might have needed that embrace with Adela much more than my four-year-old did. A tension headache has pulsed at the bottom of my scull for days. It is momentarily relieved by a good laugh, a visit from a friend, or devotional time with my Bible. But it comes back, a painful beat keeping rhythm with my anxious heart. My mind is filled with Micaela's hurts, preparing for five or more days of doctors/clinics in Albuquerque, and packing up Adela to spend a week with her grandparents. I am not quite at my wit's-end, but I am horribly aware that my thoughts and attitude need altering. That moment I spent with Adela wrapped in my arms was the highlight of a very long day.
And that was when I realized something amazing about touch.
When you touch someone through the gentle squeeze of a hand, heart felt words of love, or acts of service, you are touched too. When we reach out, filled with God's love pouring through us, we are touched as thoroughly and deeply as the person we sought to reach. Touch is not a one way street but an impact of hearts.
How often does everyone out there get a hug? A smile? A comment spoke to warm their day? My life is in constant contact with others because little ones fill my home and fill my heart. Touch is a consistent part of my world. And, so are words of praise and encouragement. As I focus on telling Adela and Micaela positive things I fill my home with the touch of words. As I lovingly care for my family's needs I fill my home with the touch of service. And each time I scoop my children up in my arms or hold my husband's hand I fill my home with loving physical touch.
As the trip to Albuquerque looms ahead of me, I think of all the parents I will meet in waiting rooms, the friends I will reconnect with, and the dozens of strangers that will collide with my life. I pray for God to fill me with love and understanding so that I can touch lives in His way.
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
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