Ever thought about how impact others when used in an appropriate situation? In what situation(s) do you typically give a hug? How about greeting someone who you have not seen in a long time or saying good-bye to someone who you will not see in a long time – kids heading off to college or to the military. The gentle warmth you feel when holding your baby in your lap to snuggle at the end of the day. The creaking, aching knees while squatting when making boo-boos feel better. Maybe you have experienced one or more of the following type hugs:

  • Night hug:   night-night hug for kids; night-peck for teens; night-hug for husband, but only if there is time with all the other things to do;
  • Leave hug:           husband leaves for work; kids leave for school; parents leave for vacation; best friend is leaving for Spain.
  • Welcome hug:      glad-you-are-here hug; oh-so excited-to-see-you-hug;
  • Wordless hug:      “I’m sorry for your loss and don’t know what to say” hug;
  • Busy hug: “OK, son, I’m in a hurry to get this done
  • Abandon hug:    “I’m late, don’t have time”
  • Irritated hug:    no words, just a few pats on the back that imply… “Hurry up, get this over, I’ve got things to do and don’t have time for this”
  • Love hug:    begins with “I love you”, then silence, resting in the contentment, peace and acceptance of the hug.

Think about when someone gives you a hug, how does it make you feel? Warm fuzziness… welcoming… empty…  joy…   comforting …   or neglected. Hugs are portraits – two individuals expressing feelings of acceptance, surrender of self, sacrifice, trust, understanding, insight…. hugs are love in action!

Some people are natural “huggers”, they are open to everyone they meet – leaving a feeling of acceptance. My wonderful mother in law was like that. She would hug you when you arrived, when you left and every time she passed you in between all those times. She never missed an opportunity to encourage someone with a hug. It was her way of loving, accepting, encouraging and even teaching those she came into contact with on a regular basis. Even someone she had just been introduced to was enveloped in a strong, accepting hug. Her hugs were not a pat on the back. No, she wrapped her strong arms around you and held on tight. It was like she was saying “You are important to me, at this time in your life, you mean something to me and I want you to carry with you how important you are to me.” You just knew that she would wrap her arms around you and your life was immediately better for it.

Then there are those who do not like hugs – they tolerate hugs or deflect hugs all together. Shy away from a hug and all that it implies and entails. That’s OK! Personal space is fundamental to and an essential part of living. It is a space that demands respect. Shying away from a hug and expecting respect of personal space does not diminish love in any way! Loving each other is the same, there is no difference.

This analogy may be applied to those who seek opportunities to grow spiritually in their relationship with God and those who do not. Those who hunger for a more intimate relationship open their arms pulling in everything to learn more and more about the God they love. The books they read may be Biblically focused on who Christ is and how He desires to be a part of their life. They work at accepting change by positioning themselves to reach out to others and to be a part of activities that challenge them. They are determined to change their relationship with Christ through attending corporate worship, group Bible studies, individual Bible reading, study and prayer.

What about those who fill their life with same routines day in and day out? They do not entertain any idea of the need to look at their actions and change. They are naïve as to how they impact others with their words and actions or how it reflects their relationship with Jesus. Self-imposed disappointments invade a perpetual cycle, negative thoughts, self-centeredness live in their mind. Words reflect the heart of negativity – nothing satisfies them. They may be full of good intentions, when everything about their life is perceived as wrong in some way or another. They never seem to be able to find the strength within themselves to move into a healthier lifestyle – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

While reading this blog, did a few people flit across your mind? I know a few crossed my mind, some with several of these traits and others with only one or two. Even those who are struggling to find the strength to move out of their box. But I kept going back to one particular relationship… mine with Jesus! Yes, me! I continue in this self-imposed lifestyle, which continues to close me emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually to a bold, confident lifestyle with Jesus.

Is this not like a hug, I can either choose to work at a lifestyle that opens my arms to a relationship with Jesus or I can cross my arms deflecting everything relating to changing my relationship with Jesus. To have a growing relationship with God is determination and hard work. It is growing outside of comfort zones, purposefully placing myself in situations that challenge growth and accountability. I must look at the impact my words and actions have on others. I must ask Jesus to show me how to change to be open to a deeper relationship with Him. I must ask Him for the strength of obedience.

Oh I am so thankful that God not only gave me His HUGS, but continues every day to hug me. Lamentations 3:22-23   “Through His mercies we are not consumed, because His compassion never fails, they are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”

God is a God of grace. I still work to understand His grace and how it affects me. HUGS is one way that I try to understand it. I shy away from grace, something that God has given me that I don’t deserve. God wraps me in His grace. Thank you God for Your free gift – HUGS!

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