Friday, November 23, 2007

Hug Update #2: The Four Things I Learned.

As I said in my last post, I felt I was playing it safe. I wanted to stretch myself - really get out there, ya know? I was looking for people, who not only willingly accepted hugs, but people who may just be in need of a hug from a goofy, big grinned, redhead on a mission. But how will they know that they can get their daily dose of affectionate embrace from me?

*snap* I got it!

All I need is a big ol' sign on my chest letting them know I'm here for the hugging! So I went to Micheal's Craft Store and bought a make-it-yourself button, then came home and printed out my message on yellow paper w/ black ink (the road sign people will tell you black on yellow catches the eye more easily than any other color combination) and, Wah-la! Here you have it:

I was in business! But one question remained: Where do I find these people? Well, that was easy. Where does anyone find anything they are in need of these days? WAL-MART, of course! In desperate need of some groceries and time away from the kiddos, I kissed hubby good-bye and set off on my mission. This was going to be good! I was a bit nervous, but not about the kind of reception I might get. I was nervous about getting NO reception at all. What if no one wanted to hug me? What if the world had already gotten so cold and I was too late? No! No! I would not accept this. *shakes head fervently* I WILL hug someone today if it's the last thing I do!

"As God as my witness! I shall never go without hugs again! Not me, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, cheat, kill or steal - as God as my witness! I'll never go without hugs again!"

Ahem. Excuse me, got a little carried away there. I'm back now.

Anyway, as I trotted into Wal-mart I realized that my big button was not going to do the work on it's own. I had to put on my big smile as well. I needed to look approachable. Very approachable. Like, "I wanna give that girl a big ol' hug" approachable. So smile, I did! I smiled and tried to make eye contact. Tried to make eye contact. Tried to make eye contact. Tried to make eye contact. No, I'm not skipping like an old 45. I was having some serious difficulty making eye contact!

Learning experience Number One: people don't make eye contact anymore. I never noticed this before. Hmm...could it be because *I* didn't like to make eye contact with people? Heaven forbid I make eye contact and someone would want to talk to me! *shiver* Dealing with people I don't know is not my forte. So what the heck am I doing trying to hug them?

God works in mysterious ways...

So I make my way through the aisles of Wal-mart and it really wasn't long before I had my first bite. A sweet lady in the facial creams & cleansers aisle. She said she thought my button was cute, so I held my arms out and gleefully said, "They're free!" She laughed and said, "Well, sure!" and gave me a big, grandma-style hug - all squishy and warm!

That is when I found myself at the start of Learning Experience Number Two: Once you hug someone, they'll want to talk to you! My first huggee was in need of a particular facial cleanser and wanted to know if I could help her find it. After reading the ingredients on one of the jars in her hand, we quickly surmised that she, indeed, had the one she was looking for.

After that, I got four more hugs (two from the same person) and a "hand hug" (I think that guy was a bit shy) and listened as people told me their stories. I heard from one man about his battle with cancer. Another about his reasons for leaving the Catholic church and why he found his non-denominational church so much more inviting. Another quickly told me how he likes to hug everyone at church and still another told me about how he was able to rid himself of physical ailments that had been bothering him for years once he learned how to forgive people and let go of anger.

Wow! I really didn't see that coming. The way these people just opened up to me was something that actually took several days for me to fully absorb. It made me wonder about the rest of us. While we are walking through our daily existence, doing our best not to make eye contact, are we really waiting for someone, a total stranger even, to take notice?

Well, after three hours and a lot of sharing, I headed back home with my mission accomplished - for that day, anyway. The people were out there, alright. They were right across the street, no less. And I couldn't help but continue to reflect on the two things that I learned while in Wal-mart:

1. We have become a people, either because we are unwilling or afraid, who no longer make eye contact. For whatever reason, we don't connect with each other is this simplest of ways. And,

2. We have become a people who, once a connection is made, are hungry for one another.

A hug. A simple act of love. A simple connection between two people. Two people who may not even know each other.

"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other". ~ John 13:34, 35

When I first read this verse, not that long ago, I thought that showing the love we have for one another meant some great act of commitment; some great show of love. I realize now, like most people, we make God out to be more complicated than He is. Showing God's love can be a great act of commitment or it can be just the simple act of hugging someone.

Hugging them in Aisle 6, right next to the facial cleansers, for that matter.

So what about the other two things I learned from all of this? Well, you'll just have to stay tuned!

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