Everyone has thought about their love language before, right? It’s such a simple but profound concept. One of my mine is touch. My husband jokes because I am such a hangy hugger, like a leech sometimes, I don’t want to let go! I think it puts me at ease.
Oddly enough, my family was never much into hugging. I rarely hug strangers but the nag to do so has increased as of late. In fact, when I was watching the Marine Corps Marathon last month, I made fast friends with an older couple for a couple of hours and hugged them both goodbye. That’s totally uncharacteristic of me but I kind of liked it!
I know my comfort with hugging and physical touch with others has grown immensely since I started with Back on My Feet. One of the staples of the organization is hugging. We don’t shake hands, we hug!
What is it about hugging that makes such a difference? It’s really an embrace of love for your fellow human. It’s saying, your okay, I’m okay. And in an instant, barriers are broken down, hearts slip out of sleeves, our most basic humanity is revealed.
There are a great many people in the world who haven’t had a lot of hugging. As Oddly Said pointed out this week, one of them was the severely deformed man hugged by Pope Francis.
Add that to the list of reasons I’m a huge fan of this Pope. I’m not Catholic but I keep hearing things about him that sound a lot like Jesus and make me want to do more of the same. I think that’s a reminder of how important it may be to express physical affection (obviously platonic) toward people that might look odd, seem weird, or whatever. They probably need it the most.
There were two other things this week that made me think of how touch breaks down barriers as well. One was the guy who put together a photography shoot with perfect strangers — having them pose as family. What a unique concept and one that was caught on video as well. It’s eye opening to hear what the participants had to say after they were paired and posed. Here’s one of the photos:
Another thing I saw was this adorable concept from SoulPancake video called “Have a Seat, Make a Friend.” It just shows how easy it can be for complete strangers to come together and find a common ground, that common humanity — pain or joy, fear or laughter. We are all the same in our hearts. I promise this video will make you smile:
Anyway, why do I say all this? Well, I had our Thanksgiving Dinner with Back on My Feet on Wednesday. I hugged a lot of people! I only knew a few of them when I walked in (we have multiple meeting locations during the week.) And I relished the fact that I could have a 45-minute conversation with a 52-year-old construction worker coming off of a what was likely a pretty hard life. And he told me all about his family from New Orleans and how he makes the best gumbo you’ll ever taste.
And to think it started with a hug. All of the sudden we’re just people, with mothers who took care of us when we were born. I don’t think most people say hello to a new person with a hug but I think it would be a good idea to have more of it.
It’s like saying, Hello, welcome, we’re the same, in all our brokenness, smelliness, insecurities and silent worries. It’s embracing the whole of someone, eliminating judgment and starting in the best place possible.
Are you a hugger? How about a hugger or strangers?
Stealing Oddly Said’s questions…When was the last time you showed physical affection to someone you didn’t know well?