Wednesday, May 21, 2014

No One Hugs Me

Sadly, one of my more popular posts is the one titled: “No One Loves Me.”  People from around the world regularly Google that phrase, and then read the words I had written.  From their comments I see that some gain hope, but sadly some only wallow in their despair.  Contrary to what you might assume, it is not older people who most comment on their unloved feelings, it is the younger.  People in their 30’s and 40’s, who have lived what they perceive as good lives often seem to feel unloved, and they wonder why --- and they search the internet for advice and answers from strangers who don’t know them.  Or perhaps they are searching for a kindred spirit to wallow in their misery with them, affirming that they have done all they could.
They won’t find such a kindred spirit here.
This past week I twice received hugs, both in response to donations I made of things I didn’t need, to organizations and people who did.  One set of hugs was from some young sisters, perhaps finding the adjustment to vows of poverty a bit difficult, so I gave them some temporary relief.  The other hugs were from young girls at a new Catholic high school, who lamented the lack of reading material in the school’s new library --- and I had so many shelves of books in my home, but now a few less.  I gave to them things I hardly will miss, and they gave to me things I hardly can forget.  I’m not sure who has received more.
A hug is a wonderful thing.  Your kids, your spouse and perhaps special friends may say that they love you, but unless they hug you, their words may ring hollow.  When someone receives a gift from you, they might say: “I love it; thank you.”  But there are others who might not say a word, but knowing the true love with which you gave the gift --- a special gift for them, special people --- they hug you.  The touching and holding of a hug conveys a feeling of warmth.  You remember that touch.
It makes me sad whenever I read about the hookup culture which exists in our colleges.  “Scratch my back” or “have sex with me” are said with equal importance --- it’s just an itch, and you can help calm it.  Sometimes a kiss may accompany the sexual actions, perhaps even the word “love” might be mentioned --- strictly as a tool or arousal of course, --- like the other person is.  But I suspect that rarely does a hug, a real hug, accompany the mindless act.  For if there is a hug being given during a “hookup,” it is only the receiver of the sexual arousal hugging himself, thinking himself special, thinking himself worthy of some attention.
He is very foolish to think that he can hug himself and think of himself as special, when all that he really is, is alone.  It takes another person to hug you, one responding to who you are and what you mean --- to them.  And the touch of their hug arouses you much more deeply and longer than any sexual arousal; their touch arouses your soul.  Through them, it is as God saying to you: “You have done well.  Thank you.”
But what if you look around and become aware that you are not receiving hugs --- none today, none yesterday, none this month, or perhaps even this year!  What can you do?  Well, look to the example of the hugs I received.  I perceived that someone had a special need or desire, something not just anyone could (or would) fulfill --- but I could.  And so I did, and the hugs came.  I did not do the actions I did expecting hugs in return, I just perceived a special need of one of the people God put in my path, an opportunity He gave me to love my neighbor.
How often do we read in the Gospels of Jesus doing something similar?  He goes about focused on His job of teaching and preaching, when out of the corner of His eye He spots the person alone, the person sad, or the person others stay away from --- and Jesus goes up to him and asks: “Can I help you?”  That’s all we need to do also, be open to seeing those who come into our paths who seem to need some attention, some help, a little love that we could take the time to give.  If you open your eyes --- and perhaps ask God to: “Show me,” --- you will see the people who need you, the neighbors He told us to love.
Scripture does not record the number of hugs Jesus received, in part, I suspect, because it was so common.  But Scripture does record how He so often said: “Do not be anxious,” and “Follow me.”
There are hugs waiting for you.

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