Years ago if you were to ask family or friends- they would affirm that I did not like to be touched let alone hugged. It wasn’t until my days in bible college that I learned to let people in. Naturally I did not come by this learning eagerly; rather I was forced out of my non-hugging comfort zone. You could ask some of my close friends and they likely would all have a good laugh picturing my awkwardness in being hugged. These same friends likely would also point out that I had to be dragged out of my comfort zone to receive a hug. Who would think that it would take a residence of Christian men in college dorms for me to learn how to hug.
I learned quickly that a hug not only took me out of my physical comfort zone, but also out of my emotional comfort zone. This was not one moment, but several moments over a period of time as my panic and feelings of anxiety and awkwardness dissipated. You see a hug has a way of breaking down physical and emotional barriers allowing love, affection, appreciation, and affirmation to enter into previous unknown and untouched areas in our emotions, experiences, and lives. A timely embrace from someone safe forces us out of isolation, out of the background, and into increased vulnerability where we have to admit, accept, and appreciate that we need others and that there are places that we protect that need love too. A hug breaks down these defenses and allows love in.
There is also some good science behind the benefits of appropriate and safe physical touch, such as hugging. Everyone experiences feelings of fear, anxiety, and stress either briefly or over a longer period of time. These overwhelming and distressing feelings can be brought on by many different external and internal circumstances, which cause our bodies to produce stress chemicals readying us in a crisis. However these same chemicals can also cause long-term damage to our bodies, our heart, and to our brain. Remarkably an embrace such as a hug for as little as 20 seconds, not only reduces the stress chemicals, but also releases healthy bonding chemicals (love) that begin to repair the emotional and physical damage done by longer term stress, fear, depression, and anxiety. When we feel safe and loved, we are more likely to share the areas of our lives that have been hidden and yet in most need of embrace and love. Who thought a hug could have been the emotional KEY that our creative Father God embedded in our very DNA.
Go ahead and try it out- and not one of those wimpy 5 second pat on the back hugs- that just won’t do! Our good Father literally has wired us to receive love into our most fearful and vulnerable areas. We are created for connection just like in the very good image of our perfect Father.
~ “God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.” ~ Genesis 2:18
~ God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature.” ~ Genesis 1:27