I'm a daughter, granddaughter & niece of pastors. I love God & studying the Bible and want to empower others to do the same.
Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept. - Gen. 33:4 NLT
I’m so thankful for hugs, in all their sincere forms. They are one of my most favorite expressions of love. There are hugs of forgiveness and restitution and relational restoration: Esau and Jacob were estranged brothers. There was a betrayal, followed by hostility, deep anger, even hatred. Decades pass, and the brother who was betrayed, Esau, decides to forgive Jacob. Jacob is unaware of this, goes to see his brother, and tries to generate compassion, sending first ahead of him lavish gifts, then showing his family, his wives and children. He himself was last. As Jacob approached, he bowed to the ground seven times, displaying his humility, his sorrow, his yearning for forgiveness. And Esau did not retaliate with vengeance, unkindness, or even the justice he could have said he deserved. He ran up to his brother, unable to wait or contain his love for him, grabbed him tightly, embraced him, and wept for their lost years, for the time apart, for all the hurt and hate and anger and pain that had ripped the two apart for many, many years. They wept and hugged. They forgave and healed.
There are hugs after a long-absence or a long sorrow: Joseph was sold as a slave by his brothers. His father was told and believed him to be dead. He wept, and suffered for decades, living with this lie. Joseph struggled, suffered, and eventually decades later God elevated him to a mighty position of power in a foreign country. He became second in command in Egypt, a land of plenty, when Israel, his homeland, was suffering from famine (actually both lands were, but God had shown Joseph how to protect against it and have an abundance). Joseph’s brothers come to buy grain and do not recognize him, assuming he had died or remained a slave, never expecting him in this position of power and authority. Later, Joseph reveals himself to them, and to his father.
“Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time.” -Genesis 46:29 NIV
He hugged his father, who had believed him to be dead, for a long time. And they wept, hugging each other, after many, many years of separation and sorrow at the loss of each other.
There are also sorrowful hugs of goodbye: “When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them [his friends and fellow believers from the church at Ephesus] and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again.” Acts 20:36-38 NIV
They grieved at the upcoming loss of ever being able to see, hug, or touch their friend again. I, too, have experienced the sorrow of this type of hug, and the difficulty in letting go and leaving. And yet I am grateful that I had it. It used to break my heart every time I left SC for Florida and had to say goodbye to my toddler nephew, who would weep at my leaving. I would cry for at least the first half hour in the car afterward, just as I cried as a little girl every time I left my grandparents’ house in Miami. And I have cried during hugs knowing it was the last time I would see, hug, or touch that someone again. I have cried at the loss of a person whom I was never able to hug again, for so suddenly were they ripped from my life, and I was never able to touch them again.
I love hugs and look forward to them every day, every time I know I will see someone who will give me one, regardless of who they are to me. I'm always grateful for hugs. I love the way children wrap their arms around my neck and squeeze tightly (like an anaconda, they tell me), even if it’s a bit painful. I love the way an old southern Florida church where my grandfather preached has “sugar time” to greet one another with hugs that last solid minutes. I’m thankful for the friends who’ve hugged and held me at funerals and let me cry and sob and shake with sorrow, soaking their shoulders or chests with my tears. I’m thankful for the embrace of friends I haven’t seen in a long time, and the delight in their presence. I’m thankful for the way the Cubans in my family always go around the house and greet each person with a hug and “un besito,” a little kiss on the cheek. I love the way my grandmother still hugs me tightly every morning that I’m with her as she makes us coffee. I love that she did this daily even when I stayed in her house for months during the summer, never taking my presence for granted, and always showing that she loves me and appreciates my existence and that shows it in this way.
I love when someone is proud of me and shows it with a hug. I love when a child or a friend is so bursting with gratitude and affection that they spontaneously hug me. I love long hugs, and will hold on as long as the other person does, or lets me. I love all the positive messages a hug can convey (and my heart aches for and I pray for those who have suffered its negative connotations and exploitations). I love the wholesomeness of hugs, the fact that it’s still, typically, a platonic expression of love between friends and family, not reserved only for spouses, at least not in my groups. I love when I meet someone new, have a wonderful interaction with them, and they reciprocate it by giving me an unexpected hug as we say our goodbyes, instead of a distant handshake. To me (and I thank God I was safely raised this way and pray for those who were not), hugs are warm, welcoming expressions of love and I thank the Lord for them. Most of all, I look forward to that first day in heaven, when I can run into the arms of the Savior and hold Him and be held by Him for as long as I want. I can "love on" Him and thank Him without words for all He is to me, has done for me, all we have endured together, and all the rejoicing that will be ours together forevermore. I also look forward to again embracing those waiting for me in heaven. What a day, glorious day that will be!
For further reading, Eccl. 3:5, Gen. 33:1-12, Luke 15:11-32, Mark 10:16.
© 2021 Amanda Lorenzo
Naude Lorenzo on January 13, 2021:
Hugs should be an expression of pure love like Jesus have for us
manatita44 from london on January 12, 2021:
Sweet, charming and full of hope. Inspirational messages here.