Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Impact of a Hug

Her name is Elizabeth Laird. You probably don't know her but at Ft Hood here in Texas they do. She's known as the Hug Lady. Since 2003 she's been greeting soldiers deploying and returning from missions with a hug.

"If I can bring a smile to their face, if I can lift their spirits a bit, if I can let them know we care, it's my way of saying, 'Thank you for what you do.'" This four feet, ten inch woman is described as a one-woman welcome wagon and one-person goodbye party. In seven years they estimate she has hugged at least 500,000 soldiers.

Scared and worried soldiers leaving home and tired and worn out warriors thankful to have returned all get a hug from Elizabeth. Her hugs must be like a cup of cold water in the desert.

I wonder how many of us and the people in our world long for a hug. Oh, not just a physical, put your arms around the neck kind hug, as great as that is. No, a hug that may take a hundred different forms, but has the same impact. It's something that sends the message, I noticed you, you've not been forgotten, you matter to me and most of all you still matter to God.

Think about what hugs to our spouses, kids, parents, neighbors and coworkers might look like. A smile, a word of encouragement, a "how are things going?" to someone you know has been hurting.

What about a thank you in a spoken word or card? How about inviting someone for coffee 'just because.' Wouldn't it feel like a hug if someone walked up to you and said, "Thanks for a great job," or "I'm proud of you?"

Do we take interest in people, do we listen instead of talk, do we ever seek to learn more about someone else's recent or past story? All of these can be "hugs" that we give out regularly.

When we first moved to Texas we were amazed at how many people came up and gave us a hug even though they didn't know us. Yes, hugs can be overdone and misused but somehow it seems like we need them more in this fast-paced culture of ours.

And let's not leave out the physical version either. There is something affirming about appropriate touch and closeness when it expresses our love, pride and encouragement towards one another. In a world where people are flying by us every moment, a hug, physical or not, slows us down and helps us to notice someone else. We embrace each other emotionally when we really hug someone.

Who in your world needs to be hugged today? Who is the person who you think needs it least? They probably need it most. Give of your hugs freely, intentionally and lovingly. Give them often. And offer them in love. Someday we might wish we had hugged more when that person is no longer around or in proximity to meaningfully connect any more. Start now.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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