Not just a hug, but so much more . . .

When is a hug more than just a hug?   Last month I had some encounters that were amazing and I learned more about a simple hug. It was my monthly speaking engagement at Restore Hope.  I love that name, “Restore Hope”.  People come to Restore Hope who are having a hard time making ends meet. They need food or clothing or help with their rent. They may be out of work, the working poor with not enough money to cover basic essentials, overwhelmed with medical bills or on the verge of being homeless. Whatever their situation, there is a sense of desperation, they need some hope.

No one is required to attend chapel. They are invited to attend.

During my talk I shared that I’m known for my hugs. People at my church sometimes line up for a hug. I shared that a few weeks before I had given a lady a hug at church.  She said, “I just love your hugs!  And that smile!  Those eyes sparkle with joy!”
“You’re looking at someone who has spent a great portion of her life in depression,” I replied.  “I was diagnosed with four different kinds of depression and the joy you now see is because the Lord had healed my heart.”

This lady has known me for about six years, yet, she laughed and said, “I would have never known that you ever suffered from depression!”   We both agreed that our God is amazing.

As I shared with the audience at Restore Hope how Jesus came to heal the broken hearted, to comfort those who grieve, to provide for those who mourn, to take the ashes of our broken, messed up lives and turn them into a thing of beauty, to give us a garment of praise in exchange for depression and despair, [Isaiah 62:1-3] every eye was upon me as they listened intently.

It is the custom at Restore Hope that after the message has been given anyone who wants prayer may come and receive prayer or they may wait until they fill out their paperwork, then fill out a request to see the chaplain and receive prayer later.

“I don’t want prayer, I want one of your hugs,” a tall lady announced.  I gave her a warm hug.  “Oh, that felt so good.  Just what I needed. Thank you!”

To my surprise, no one wanted prayer. They wanted hugs! And so the hugging began.

As each person was hugged, they smiled and thanked me.  I was smiling too. It does a body good to be hugged.  It nourishes the soul. So many of us do not have human touch for days or weeks at a time.  Touch is healing.  I was being blessed as well.

Thinking that I was not needed further I stayed in the chapel and visited with the chaplain assistant.

About ten or fifteen minutes later an elegantly groomed woman came in the chapel doors.  About half way across the room she extended her arms towards me, smiling, and walked briskly towards me.  I instinctively extended my arms towards her and we ended up in a wonderful hug.  Hugging her was like hugging my long lost sister.  (She wasn’t in the audience when I spoke, so this was a mystery.)

This lady (who I will call Linda)  was there with her sister who was going through treatment for cancer.   Linda had lost her high paying job in another state.  Unemployed, she was available to help her sister who was in the last stages of cancer.  Linda’s sister was not able to work and was needing help with her rent.  While we talked, the sister was being seen by the social workers and counselors at Restore Hope.

Linda shared with me the things she had learned through her unemployment about the true value of material things. For too long she had focused on acquiring and spending money.  Now she was on a spiritual journey to get back in a walk with Jesus. She was spending time meditating and praying. She was learning to forgive those who had hurt her.

As she shared, I was able to encourage her and pray with her.  Then the sister came in and Linda said, “This lady will pray for you!”

Sister was very open to prayer.  Sister was very ill and was wearing a mask to protect herself from being infected by others. I asked what she desired me to pray for and as she shared I felt such love and compassion towards her.  After I prayed, each lady reached up and was given a hug.  Not just a shrug of a hug –  we swapped a warm, “holding you like my sister, I want all the best in the world for you,” hug. They had tears in their eyes and thanked me. They were smiling through their tears.

Again, I thought I was through for the day, but as I walked through the lobby where people sat at tables, I was asked for prayer. I gave prayer and hugs.

I left there with my love tank full.  I had received as well as given. Thank you, Lord, for simple hugs.

Sometimes, we need a hug more than we need a prayer.   A hug can be a healing balm to the soul.  Sometimes . . .  a hug restores our hope.

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4 Responses to “Not just a hug, but so much more . . .”

  1. Mary James Says:

    That was great! I felt that kind of a hug when Alex hugged me Sunday. I was a hug that would not let go. I cryed very happy tears with her.

  2. jenniecarroll Says:

    Hi my friend, beautiful sharing,,but did i read t right ,YOU suffered with depression??hard to picture,ptl, pray for me still and send hugs, i am not accepting it,sort of, but bi polar sure seems but??just lost one of the min pins, she was 8yrs but seem like a pup and loved her so much, she was for adoption but stil lved her so and since the home is strife free since russ is in jail, I started tithing and seeding again, even out of the rescues small donations,for their lives etc, real strugle here with this, she left 3 male pups at 3wks. and she showed no problem except one day she had diarrhea and figured it was the donated dog food, she seem fine when i went to bed but by 2:45am it had gone down to the ,I lost her, she was by door trying to get to me so iheld her a few minutes cryed and prayed so hard,but..the 13 yr old too yesterday but she was never real well, over weight and the former owners breed her clear up to the time i got her a couple months or so ago,but I had hopes for her too.a lot goning on with folk not doing as they promise but main concern is my relationship and love with God and his purpose and will, all else is subject to change or temporary but my hope and trust in him is the only driving force and reason for life to live at all. Where is this “new hope” sounds really great, fishes and loaves was real nice but forced to go to chapel.By the way, do you go to victory?? well talked to much,do me favor keep ears and eyes open for special folk for thes little orphans great homes when time, no fee HAS to be paid, I did not have their tails docked and no papers will go with them just lots of love.same for their grown sister, she is 2 and not been over breed,don’t think, she doesn’t look like she has been, the others sure showned it.have the daddy to, he is 5 and gorgeous, but not for breeding,papers may go with him and with her, depends??thanks,oh, the pups, one is chocolate/red the other 2 are black/tan, all males. love and thanks for bing my friend and your prayers.love jc and precious lives rescue and adoptions.ps. still no phone on yet,BUT, use tracfone when I can have time on it and give the # out to very few, I tried to copy this back off to send via emailas I thought this should not be on here realizing all could see it,but maybe it will help in that no matter the hell or pain or hearet ache,confusion or WHATEVER, ,no matter how we may feel, God,our father IS always there and He is with us,somehow He will provide and be glorified too.

  3. Esther Gene Morrison Says:

    Hi, Jean. I loved reading your blog even though I had heard it from you personally. So true that hugs are worth a mint! I experienced that in my recent trip to Peru in June. Lovw you!

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