I believe if there was more hugging, praying and listening to one another, there would be less hatred, bigotry, judgment, and violence. It is very difficult to hug and pray for someone and continue to hate them or fear them. You see them as they truly are, a person, just like you, with faults, foibles, gifts and goodness. (Yes, I believe there is some goodness in every person on earth. Every person.) If you actually listen to people, most of the time you will find they want the same things you want: love, safety, security, acceptance, and…love again! We’re all different people, but all people nonetheless. So, the next time you’re tempted to tell someone off, hate someone because of their ethnicity or different viewpoint or lifestyle, or worse, take a deep breath, remember they are human just like you, give them a hug either in actuality or in your heart, and say a prayer for them. Jesus said to pray for your enemies and to love one another. I think a lot of good things could come from following those instructions and examples that He gave of that. (Have you ever noticed that what Jesus taught and Jesus did were completely the same?)

Do you think hugs are too simplistic or that people won’t accept them well? Here are a few instances that reveal the error of that idea.

*One day at a grocery store, a complete stranger, an older woman, came up to me, started talking to me, and by the end of the conversation we were hugging and loving one another like long lost relatives. She was old, lonely, and just needed some love and attention. Okay, I’ll come clean, this wasn’t a one time event. It happens to me all the time! I think I must have a sign on my back that says, “Need a hug? Come to me!” Hahaha!

*At a job I had at the Texas Tech medical school, one day a young man who was HUGE, but greatly mentally challenged, broke free from his caregivers and charged down the hall at me yelling, “Want to bite! Want to bite!” He ran into my office, grabbed me by the arm and raised it towards his face as though he was going to bite my arm. (I was terrified! He could have bitten my arm in two. He was that big.) I patted him on his arm and gave him a gentle hug and said, “You don’t really want to bite me, do you? My name is Elaine. Did you know that God loves you?” He put my arm down, returned my hug in a nearly rib-cracking manner and apologized right before his caregivers caught up to me. He was calm for the remainder of his visit and kept repeating, “God loves me! God loves me!”

*As a final example among hundreds, one day I came across a young man who was obviously a criminal, a drug dealer, a gang leader. It was a highly charged, scary situation. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time quite by coincidence. There were other young men with him and all looked like they’d just as soon injure me as look at me. To this day I don’t know why I did this, but I believe the Holy Spirit took me over because I walked up to this scary looking big gang member and gave him a hug and told him God love him. He grasped me to him, hid his face in my shoulder and started crying! I’m not talking a little bit of tears. I’m talking body wracking sobs. He was trying to hide this from his fellow gang members, but whispered to me, “Do you really think God loves me after all I’ve done?” I assured him that God did love him, even now. Then I said something my Grandmother Gill used to say, “It’s time to come back to God’s country.” He shook his head in agreement, asked me to give him a moment to compose himself and thanked me as he let me go.

These are but a few examples of all the people I’ve met in life who just needed a hug and a reminder that they were loved by God, if no one else, and that they mattered. Now, I’m not suggesting you go up to a stranger on the street and give them a hug without asking. I am suggesting that when opportunities arise to give a hug or even a pat on the shoulder…take it! Pray for these people! Remember them and keep praying for them! We’re all humans who need love, even if we’re all different from each other. Thank God we’re all different from each other and have such variety! How boring would an entire world of Elaines be? Ugh! Actually, the world would fall apart if everyone were like me because although I’m a hugger, prayer, and lover of people, we also need accountants, doctors, lawyers, garbage collectors, mechanics, engineers, peacekeepers, artists, judges, factory workers and even politicians to keep the world running properly and with beauty. Ever single one of those people, though, needs love, or at the various least, respect. So, love, pray, hug.

Peace and love, always,

Elaine

1 Corinthians 13:1-8
The Greatest Gift
​ Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.

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