With a 4 month-old on my hip and a 20 month-old fighting to let go of my hand so he could run ahead, I wove my way through the crowd to hand off one child at the nursery and one to the toddler room.
Keeping my eyes down, I once again wound a path through all those standing around and chatting, headed upstairs and found a seat toward the front of the room and off to the side: the one place in the church I knew would fill up last, if at all, so maybe I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. Knowing I had about an hour without the demands of two children under the age of two and without having to worry about everything else going on: money problems, marriage stress, exhaustion, stress coming from almost every area of my life.
I had guessed right and no one sat in the seats on either side of me.
Throughout the worship and the sermon, I tried to focus, but mostly just reveled in the the quiet.
Until something caught my attention. Some mention of not knowing what others are going through and how we should reach out. And how we often don’t do so, how we don’t reach out when we need help, and don’t reach out to others who need it. How sometimes we don’t even talk to anyone else when we come to church: in a building full of people, we still keep to ourselves.
We were instructed to stand up and move so that we were standing right beside those in the same row as we were. And to take a hand or put an arm around the people beside us. That it would be uncomfortable(as it was rather a stuffy church) and not what we usually do, but to go ahead and do it anyway. And to hold on.
An arm came to rest around my shoulders from one side and around my waist from the other.
And in that moment, my eyes began to water.
And then a tear fell.
And then more and more until they were pouring down my face.
With my arms around the people beside me, I couldn’t reach my face to wipe the tears away.
The woman to my right wrapped both her arms around me, smoothing my hair down and resting my face against her shoulder, not caring that I was soaking her dress with my non-stop tears, while the woman to my left kept her hand on my back.
After a few minutes, I was able to pull myself together and thanked the women beside me.
When I headed home that day, once again with a baby on my hip and a chubby toddler hand in mine, I felt lighter and not as alone.
It’s been almost 6 years since that Sunday morning: I don’t remember the sermon or even the faces of the women who allowed me to cry, but I’ve never forgotten the kindness they showed me in that moment.
That moment when I realized the power a simple touch can have. And it’s why I’ve become much more of a hugger after that than I used to be.
Have you ever given or received a hug that made a difference? Are you a hugger?
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