Revive Me, Week 36– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord
Hug Like You Mean It
“Let go of whatever it was that turned you into a tentative hugger, and hug like you mean it.”
I’ve been doing too much mindless hugging lately. When my husband walks in the door, I often hug him but my mind might be elsewhere. I can be in the middle of hugging a member of my church family but my eyes will be searching for that person I need to talk to. And I don’t even want to think about how many hugs from my sons I didn’t really focus on.
A couple of things have caused me to think about this:
- The brevity of life (James 4:13-17). I’ve recently heard of a couple of sudden, unexpected deaths. I imagine their loved ones are recalling their last interactions with the departed. They probably want nothing more than to hold them one more time. When you wish you could hug someone but you can’t, you know the value of a simple hug. I also know of some who have a loved one entering hospice care. Surely every hug from now on will be more meaningful, more precious.
- The power of a good hug. I’ve been the recipient of a couple of heartfelt hugs lately, the kind that make me pause and think, “Oh, this is a real hug.” Real hugs leave me feeling bolstered and loved, as if I just received a gift. They make me smile say, “thank you!” They convince me to be more deliberate with my own hugging.
“A hug delights and warms and charms. That must be why God gave us arms.”
Non-huggers may be cringing at this post. That’s okay. You have your own form of greeting and encouraging (a hearty handshake?). The point of this Revive Me challenge is to remind us to be “all there” when we engage with others. Smile warmly, look others in the eye, and hug for real. For some, it may be just the boost they need to keep on keeping on.
Suggestions for the Week:
- Hug the stuffing out of your family members this week. Give your husband extra doses. Cherish every child-hug. And especially hug the elderly in your family.
- Determine to give up distracted greetings. Give one-on-one attention to each person you meet at worship.
- Go out of your way to hug the unhuggable (not the ones who don’t like hugs…that wouldn’t be very nice). Look for the insecure, angry, or rebellious. Help them understand God’s compassion by offering a warm hug.
- Never let a gathering go by where you don’t hug the widows and widowers. For some of them, it may be the only contact they enjoy during the week.
- Just for fun, do some research into the science of hugging to learn some of the health benefits.
Read it. Memorize it. Live it.
Revive Me, Week 31– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord
Get the Message
About 6 weeks ago, I bought a little bracelet and I’ve been wearing it nearly every day since. Just yesterday morning in Bible class, I discovered that it has something written on the underside. It says, “Never forget how much you are loved.” I was so surprised and couldn’t believe I never saw it before then. All this time that bracelet has been right there on my wrist yet I had no idea that sweet message was waiting for me. Now I like the bracelet even more!
I wonder how many other things I’ve missed out on because I wasn’t paying attention?
- Bible study. I always have a Bible nearby. I try to read it daily. But am I paying attention? Am I examining it closely and focusing on the details? Am I seeing God’s message?
- Relationships. I have family and friends all around me. But am I paying attention to them? Do I see their cues, hear their hints? Have I been so distracted by my own schedule or constantly checking messages that I’ve been missing the needs of those most dear to me? Have I missed out on some friendships because I’ve been blind to efforts to reach out to me?
- Blessings. They’re everywhere, everyday. But have I taken them for granted? Have I even seen the blessings, big and small, that God sends me so that I will get His message, “Never forget how much you are loved”?
“Oh taste and se that the Lord is good” (Psa. 34:8).
Suggestions for the Week:
- Study the Bible intentionally. Look closely. Examine each word. See how sweet and dear God’s message is for you!
- Notice every thoughtful gesture by the people around you. Acknowledge them. Recognize it as yet another proof of God’s love and care for you.
- See the blessings, physical and spiritual. Help others see them. Ask God to help you keep your eyes open to them.
- Put your phone, laptop, iPad, whatever away. Instead of looking down at your device, look around and SEE people. Smile, connect, and see their messages.
Read it. Memorize it. Live it.
During worship on Sunday, 70-year-old Janice went forward to put on her Lord in baptism (Gal. 3:27). As is our custom, we all gathered around into a large circle around the auditorium after worship. This “welcome circle” is meant to represent Christians all over the world who have put on Christ and are now united. It represents Janice’s new spiritual family who stands ready to support, encourage, and help her in any way we can. We sang songs like “God is So Good” and “I’m Happy Today.” One of our elders prayed for Janice, and then we each went up and hugged and welcomed our new sister into the Lord’s body. Her shining face was truly a beautiful sight to behold.
But here’s what I really love about the welcome circle:
I love being able to look around and make eye contact with every member. It’s a treat to be able to look at the faces around the circle and think about my relationship with them, how thankful I am for them, or what prayer needs they may have.
I love seeing the expressions on their faces. No heart is untouched by a baptism. Whether young or old, each face reflects emotion. Everyone is smiling, and many are doing so through tears. I imagine most of us are recalling the day we obeyed the gospel ourselves.
I love the sense of connection. In an increasingly disconnected society, I’m especially grateful for the sweet tie that binds us together in Christ. These relationships are real and everlasting.
I love the joy. After the circle broke up, I looked around in every direction. The building was filled with groups of people whose faces were bright. There were no polite or half-hearted smiles, but genuine teeth-showing grins. Our hearts were encouraged and our strength was renewed. This happiness can’t be fabricated or bought or forced. It’s simply the unique joy experienced by those who love God and love His people.
“And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in His salvation” (Psalm 35:9).
Most of my tablecloths have a pretty side and a not so pretty side. If I sit down to eat with my family and notice that I put the tablecloth on wrong side up, I think, “Oops. Oh well, it’s just my family.” I’m a lot more careful when we have guests. I make sure they only see the pretty side. Shame on me. Of course I’m not really talking about tablecloths. I’m talking about those times when I act prettier for others than I do for my own dear family.
Shame on me when I snap in irritation at my husband or children. I would never dream of snapping at a neighbor or church member lest they think I’m unpleasant to be around.
Shame on me when I make my impatience obvious to my family but with everyone else I cover it up with a smile.
Shame on me when I use harsher words with my family to make a point but choose my words more carefully and tenderly with friends.
Shame on me when I roll my eyes when my husband asks me to do something for him but act all eager to please when others do the same.
My family deserves my prettier side. I do have one and I know how to display it when I think it matters. Why would I rob the ones who matter most of sweetness but go to great lengths to brighten up for everyone else? I prove my love for my family when I care enough to give them the best side of me.
Prayer for Today: May I daily cherish my family, Lord, by showing them the same grace and honor I extend to others.