I want to create a ministry based on hugs.
Have you ever noticed how you feel when you get a long, warm embrace from someone who has loving intention behind it? Maybe warm, or valued, or wanted, or seen? It feels good.
Cut to last Friday night. I’m out with a friend in a nice neighborhood, sharing food and drinks and good conversation. My companion says to the restaurant owner, who is playing host at the bar, “Does anyone ever tell you that you look like ______ (a local politician and businessman)?”
He smiles tentatively, responds in the affirmative, and adds, “But he’s much more successful than I am.”
Ever the minister, I say, “But how do you define success? I define it by level of happiness.”
He says, “Then I’m not successful.” I pause, wait him out. Nothing. I look at him–really look at him. He is sad. He looks beaten, like he’s barely made it through the day.
“Do you need a hug?” I ask. He pauses, waits me out. Looks at me–really looks at me. I’m not sure what he sees, but he feels accepted and safe.
“Yes, I do.” My friend and I pay our tab, and he says he’ll meet me at the front near the exit. I tell him I have to put my things down to give him a proper hug. I introduce myself, and he tells me his name is Steve.
“Hello, Steve.” I shake his hand. And then I give him a hug. I wrap my arms around his neck and move in close. He puts his arms around my waist. We stand there for a good long while. I put my head on his shoulder. We part.
“Thanks,” he says, “I needed that.”
“I’ll be back when the restaurant reopens,” I say. I want to support this man who is carrying such a heavy weight on his shoulders.
That’s me. Keeping the faith, one hug at a time.