I am admittedly not much of a hug person, although I know many people who are. It is not that I am against showing affection, I just think a hand shake does the job. Of course, all of this makes no difference when it comes to my children. If they want a hug, I will always give them a hug. I often think about some of the horror stories I have read about children who have been neglected. The saying I have heard that has stuck with me is: “If you don’t hug your kids, someone else will.” I don’t know who to credit with that, but someone other than me said it. I believe this is something all parents need to think about.
With three boys in our house, there is never a shortage of activity. Whenever I leave the house, it is amusing to watch as my boys will come give me a hug. My 5-year-old will run across the yard in order to give me a hug. It is a mad dash and if I were to leave, he would be devastated by it. Also, I have recently noticed that he always has to get the last hug in. He might hug me 8 times in order to accomplish that.
Example of a normal departure
Me: “bye, see you later”
5 yr: “dad, wait, hug!” — He runs over to give a hug.
2 yr: “dad, hug” — He runs over to give me a hug.
Wife – gives me a hug and usually hands my daughter to me to hug as well
Me: “ok, bye”
5 yr: gives another hug, then I walk out the door and he gives me another hug.
This cycle often repeats.
The other time this happens is at bedtime. For a while, I would sing the song “I have decided to follow Jesus” with my boys as we were getting them into bed. I would stop and have them say certain words. (i.e. Jesus, no turning back) I forgot about that until recently it came to mind and I sang it at bedtime. It was quite exciting to watch their faces light up as I sang it with them. Even though they refused to sing along, they still seemed to connect with it. Then after all of that, I need to give a few hugs to each boy. If they feel like they get short changed on a hug, they will call me up to their room and ask for another.
The heart of God is obvious as I spend that time with my kids. They don’t have an agenda, they just want to love me. This is true for God as well. The motivation is not malicious, it is love. The world can get so skeptical about God and the way He works, but the truth is it is all about love.
One area where this applies outside the home is with our sponsored child. As I have mentioned before, we sponsor a child through Compassion International. Her name is Beatriz and she is a 13-year-old girl who lives in poor area of Brazil. Our role is to sponsor her financially in order to help with her schooling and daily life. We also get letters from her and correspond with her, as that post I linked to above refers to. Compassion has a blog and recently they posted some of the ways the sponsored children have been blessed through this correspondence. (read here) Talk about a practical way to give hugs to people who might not receive all that many! A simple letter can make a lasting impact on someone. Taking the time to notice someone who might be unnoticed speaks loudly to them.
Each person can make a difference in the life of someone else, even if you are not someone who really likes hugs. Hugs can come in different ways and can have just as much meaning. Maybe this week, instead of having the last word, we can all try to have the last hug. What if we were kind to people who didn’t reciprocate it? What if we had people over to our homes who legitimately needed the support or to be noticed by someone? It is something to consider because we all know people who might just need a hug. Last hug wins!