I think you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she hugs another. One of my favorite huggers is no longer alive, but the effects of his hugs are still with me. When I first met him, I was a very selective hugger — I had to trust you and know that you were worthy of being in my safe zone before I’d open my arms (okay, I’m still a selective hugger). But he was patient and eventually he won me over. I’ve always been adamantly opposed to the wimpy side-hug, the shoulder pat, and the press-your-cheek-to-mine-with-a-foot-between-us maneuver. I may be a selective hugger, but if I’m going to hug you, I’m really going to hug you. So I hugged him and he hugged me back. And then we shared many more hugs, and I learned something really important.
Because I have to analyze everything to pieces, he and I had a conversation one day about the impact of hugs — physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Physically, he said, it just feels really good to be embraced. I concurred. But I added that it’s more than just physically being held — it’s about feeling safe, emotionally opening yourself up to be embraced as you are by another person.
Then I told him that one of the reasons he was one of the best huggers I knew was because he didn’t let go right away, that he always made me feel like I was worth holding on to.
You are, he said. And then, of course, I cried.
The spiritual impact, we decided, is that we’re all worth holding on to. God created us with worth, for a purpose. We live in an imperfect world with a lot of hurts and heartaches — we need to remind each other that we’re not in this alone.
He’s not here to hug anymore, but I still carry that conversation and his hugs with me. God has given me people on this earth who are worth holding on to. I hold them tightly so they feel it, because I never know when each opportunity might be the last. You may not be a hugger by nature, and that’s okay . . . you don’t have to hug everyone you meet. But go find those people in your safe zone and wrap your arms around them. Don’t let go right away. Make them feel that they are worth holding on to.