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A Hug is Not Just a Hug

I think I’ve said, a time or two, how fantastic my church’s newest pastor is.

Well, yesterday, Tom was in rare form as he began his sermon.

He utilized a member of the congregation to demonstrate various types of hugs and even broke down, step by step, the symbolism of what each part of a hug means.

Sound silly?

It was, a little, and we had fun laughing along with Tom and his “volunteer.”

BUT, the application to real life…trust…boundaries…fear…

Oh.  My.

Deep.

I sat there thinking about the boundaries I’ve set up around me and, perhaps, how I don’t respect others’ boundaries or how I react when others don’t respect (or fail to notice) my own boundaries.

We, as humans, need to establish boundaries to deal with life.  As we grow older, we build up walls in reaction to the “stuff” that happens in our lives.

These walls determine the kinds of hugs we give and are willing to receive.

It’s no secret that I have issues.

I’m not alone though.  Don’t pretend that you don’t.

My issues stem from being the child who, as the oldest of a sometimes single mother, had to fend for herself…most of the time.

I have trust issues.

I have issues with love, though my issues haven’t affected my ability to love my own children with a fierce intensity.  This love extends to the students I teach.

Still, I tend to distance myself from others in my life who do love me, or I shy away from opportunities to let new people in.

I think it stems from the fear of being rejected…not being in control.

It’s also a fear of letting people down.  As a result, I am, at times, a people-pleaser.

I think I fall somewhere in the middle of the fear/boundary continuum that Tom mentioned in his sermon (I won’t go into more details because I’m afraid I wouldn’t do his words justice).

Holidays are the times when my fears attack me the worst, so I honestly don’t look forward to what should be special times.

Too many expectations…too many opportunities to be rejected (this is a lie Satan tells me) or to lose control.

Mother’s Day is no exception.

In fact, it’s one of the worst of the holidays for me.

Especially where it comes to acknowledging my own mother.

Sad, and I know it would hurt her to read this, but true, and I think she’d understand.

Soooo much water under the bridge…so many hurts have passed between us over the years…so little trust…so many walls built up.

She’s trying to reconnect.

I don’t want to be hurt any more.

BUT…

I called her yesterday…trying for once to be a good daughter.

And do you know what?

We had the most normal conversation we’ve ever had.

It didn’t have any expectations tied to it.

It was simply a woman-to-woman chat…about cell phone service…about the kids…about work.

And it gave me hope…

That one day when I hug my mom, it will be like the last hug that Tom demonstrated…

The one that signifies true joy at seeing someone who has been deeply missed and is deeply appreciated.

One like what Chicky gave me before she went back to school…

The one I keep reliving over and over because of its depth and sincerity.

I’m not an easy person to love, and I certainly don’t love very easily either.  But my hope is that I will be able to work through my fears, loosen up the tight boundaries I’ve set up in my life, and love freely…both in giving it and accepting it back…

Through whatever kind of hug a person chooses to give me (hopefully not the last, stalker-ish one that Tom demonstrated a little too familiarly 😉 ).

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