During a recent mission trip, I was touched by the power of touch. I had the privilege of giving shoulder massages to mothers who had just come out of drug rehabilitation. As I began rubbing, they began talking, telling me their stories. Sharing our stories is one of the most powerful ways we touch others and allow them to touch us. I told one mother with a one-month-old daughter that I was not a professional masseuse. She turned, looked up at me, and quietly said, “I just want someone to touch me.” I was humbled and deeply touched by her words. It takes so little to make a big difference. What a privilege to touch and love her. For a few moments, God intimately connected us. That’s what He does when we open our hearts and give Him our hands♥
I’m a hugger, and all who know and love me know that I love to touch and be touched. I don’t know if I’ve always been that way, but I am now! There is something special about physical contact, and I need it to survive. I wasn’t surprised to find that animals must also have it. Studies show that being touched lowers our blood pressure, improves our outlook, reduces stress, and connects us to one another in a special way. Animals will not survive without it even when they have all the food, water, and safe shelter they need. I imagine people are the same, but there are no official studies to prove it. There are, however, many examples all around us of those who need to be touched.
God created me to connect and to love, and I cannot find the peace He desires until I reach out in love and honest communion to touch those around me. That not only means those who are nearby, but those across the world. Through World Vision and Compassion, I am able to connect to children half a world away. That is a miracle in and of itself! Touching takes me a step closer to God who is One Who touches this world in a very physical and personal way. Love cannot be contained, and it will not survive in a vacuum. Love and touch go together. So often, I find that a hand on my back, a hug, or simply someone holding my hand changes the direction of my day. The lack of touch does the same.
I was vividly reminded on that mission trip that not everyone is touched and many who are touched are victims of abuse. The fingers of this world are too rough, as Langston Hughes reminds me in “The Dream Keeper.” I need to touch those who are not touched and allow others to touch me. There is no medicine in this world that heals the way an embrace from my son does. I thank God for the beautiful loving man he has grown into. It doesn’t surprise me because he was a beautiful loving child:) When Lillyann and Mylah kiss and hug me, my heart becomes whole. I get hugs from loving people all throughout the day. What a blessing it is to receive hugs from former students as they come into my path and to feel the warm embrace of a friend who truly knows my heart. It is heaven on earth and makes walking in God’s kingdom now possible.
When I left teaching and went to work at the church, I decided I would treat myself to a massage once a month. Trish was my masseuse, and we became very close. Physical touch creates intimacy, and Trish’s touch was so healing. She could wipe away stress and bring my body to a place of sweet peace in the space of an hour. Once, as she was massaging me, I started to weep. Tears literally poured from my eyes. It wasn’t the same as crying, and I wasn’t sure what was happening. I told her I was sorry; she said not to worry and just relax. I found out later that stress can be carried deep in our muscles, and massage can bring it to the surface in a powerful way that causes weeping. I felt so good after that session and learned a great lesson, as well. Touch releases emotion in me when I am touched and when I touch.
It isn’t easy to touch and be touched. Some folks do not like it, and I have to be aware of that as I reach out. That is where that loving presence comes into play. Listening is the most beautiful way to touch, and having someone heart your heart is the most wonderful way to be touched. The Holy Spirit is God’s touch. It is a touch that transforms my heart and allows me to touch others as He touches me, and that is what walking in God’s kingdom is all about. God’s touch has taught me to touch and be touched as He desires, and that has changed the way I live and love.