When All You Need Is a Hug…

EFBB1447-4B0A-44DE-B9DC-924415C5EA6E… even if it’s one in your dreams…

That was me, even though I would have been too rushed to think I needed one. And not just any hug; I mean a hug where everything suddenly feels right, secure, strong, healed… you know those kinds? They aren’t the kind that happen often. Believe me, I get (and give) many hugs, between my children and family and friends… but you know… the kind of hug where you know everything is going to be alright, and either you or the other person sobs on the other’s shoulder: that kind of hug.

Lately, hour has melted into hour, day has melted into day, and year has melted into year… time seems to be zooming past at the speed of whichever next event is up to bat, and we haven’t even reached the holiday season yet. Are we not all driving from here to there, jumping from this social media post to that one, going from this event to that one and that game to this one? Are we not shouting the fastest robot-like “I love you” in the world as our spouse speeds out the door to work (or we do) and our children race out the door to school? Maybe you’re not. But I am…

And that goes for my prayer life, too.

I have been rushing through what has become of desert of prayer… it starts out as a loving conversation, but then gradually I begin to think of all the unanswered prayers over all the years… a nameless ache that persists (the “thorn”?)… and then my very strong rational lack of faith kicks in and goes “alright, then, I’ll just rush through this because You know what I need anyway… plus, how’s that sleeping on the boat going when I’ve begged and bargained with all I’ve got to please turn the page on this particular chapter in my life… but wait, if this page turns, is there a worse chapter up ahead?” And my mind gets tangled and I check the weather, and texts, and move on.

I know this sounds ridiculous, even to myself as I type the words. Here there are people who have lost loved ones and homes to fires and disasters and violence. There are people with no one to hug if they wanted to, people with horrific illnesses, people who are lonely and depressed, people who have much less than I do. What is my problem? Why am I down because relentless finances (or lack thereof) prevent the simplest of things that cause my heart to ache? Why do I keep obsessing over how others don’t even realize how blessed they are that they have normal showers with normal water and normal toilets and normal heat and normal dishwashers and normal kitchens and normal ceilings (because we don’t)… But because people “have it worse,” I feel guilted into not allowing myself to realize that this is legit. My pain at not being where I want us to be as a family yet, not having healed fully yet, trying to get out of the rut that entrenched us still, is legit. My pain is legit.

Your pain is legit.

I know I’m blessed. And so are you. But sometimes, sometimes for even a long time, we can’t seem to see it. Sometimes life has dealt some harsh cards and we are still in recovery, even if we bury the recovery in every way possible so that our pain is not even visible to ourselves. Sometimes we smile through the pain because we can’t come up with any fancy (or non-fancy) answers to why, just why, this cross is still so heavy.

And that’s where the hug comes in.

The hug has no words. It’s an embrace from another, out of love, that puts us all on the same playing field. The hug has no judgment and communicates that we are not alone. The hug absorbs pain and oftentimes causes unexpected cleansing tears of grief or even of joy and laughter… The hug tells us that we can go on, that we can take one more step. I imagine that when we go to heaven, we will be hugged.

And this brings me back to “our dreams.”

Classic Shalimamma-style, I went to sleep last night not feeling the need for anything from anyone else. I’m used to taking care of my children and my family and am generally not waiting around for someone to do anything for me, even though my family is so generous and loving. I didn’t think I needed any hug, and I went to sleep with the same mysteries on my mind and heart, with a sort of “oh well… another day, another half-dollar…”

I had a dream last night where I was holding the hand of a blind little boy. I was in my past role as a care-giver to people with disabilities, and I was leading him around to “find the person that he was going to meet and hug.” I stooped down to his height and I said “Ok! Here they are, are you ready to hug them?” But he ignored the guest and suddenly he hugged ME. He hugged me tight. I started sobbing, just sobbing on his little shoulder. I asked him through my tears, “Why did you do that? Why me?” He whispered in my ear, in an almost adult-sounding voice, “because you are the one who needed it.” I whispered back, “thank you…”

And then I woke up, almost shaken.

I don’t have any fancy (or non-fancy) answers for you or for me. I just know that we all, from the strongest most leaderish types to the smallest most child-like types, need to be loved. I believe the hug is one of the closest ways we can communicate God’s love to another, without our sloppy words to mess up His message. Imagine our world right now if everyone knew they were loved.

Perhaps there’s someone in our lives who just needs a hug today. Perhaps that someone is even ourselves. I pray that everyone today who needs a hug gets one, even if it’s in a dream… You may not see anything… you may not feel anything… this may all sound like a bunch of nonsense, and you may be skeptical and feel like a less lucky person than I do. But this one truth remains:

You. Are. Loved.



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