Tis the Season

I wrote a letter to my cousin Grady the other day for Writing 101–an online course I’m taking that forces me to write each day. I like it! The topics are broad and easy to adapt to what flows naturally from my mind.  Some days I look forward to a little inspiration to help me refine my craft.

Many people “liked” my post that day and commented as well.  Lauren, one of my sweet co-workers even stopped by my office to tell me that she reads my posts every day and to ask “Who is Grady?” I explained to her that he is my cousin. We were raised as siblings, and he passed away 20 years ago. He was funny, smart, and artistic, but succumbed to a dreaded illness at the age of 30.

Lauren and I chatted a little longer about our families and the awesome God we serve. In parting, we hugged. She initiated it, and it was real — not the cursory kind that almost seems accidental. It was a real embrace from a kindred spirit who sensed a void and felt compelled to fill it with love. I needed that hug. I was teetering somewhere between survival and maintenance at that moment.

“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” ~Virginia Satir

When I made it home later that evening, I walked my Golden and read a few blogs before my husband came home with more hugs. What I learned is that several of my favorite bloggers had also written about loss that day. Though my loss was decades old, others were dealing with more recent, debilitating, crushing losses that made condolences and consolation seem out of reach and a far cry from their reality. Even though my heart still bears scars, it has mended–thanks in part to lots of hugs and daily reminders that God is with us always.

As I prepare to spend time with family this holiday season, I realize that this Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah won’t be joyous for everyone. Tis the season for loneliness and sadness — not just thankfulness and joy. For some, the holidays are a reminder of those who have left this life for an eternal one.  That alone should bring us joy, but often times, our hearts can’t handle feeling joy without pain. Each year during the month of November, I see lots of Facebook posts about 30-Day Thankfulness Challenges. There’s even a video out now that went viral because it tugs at your heart strings. It amplifies the feeling of warm fuzzies associated with the Pay It Forward Challenge. I say do it every day–not just certain times of the year. Live each moment of your day so that you intentionally breathe life into others with your sincere words, smiles, and those void-filling hugs.

So today I’m issuing a year-long challenge to everyone who reads this. Don’t allow anyone you know to teeter between survival and maintenance ever again.  Help them to grow. That equates to 12 hugs a day. It may be uncomfortable at first (especially if you’re not a hugger), but once you start, you won’t be able to stop. Remember, you’re promoting your own growth as well as that of others when you take the time to share a hug.

Let that be the epidemic that’s trending on Twitter and making national news. If Wolf Blitzer starts the top of the hour by talking about the importance of hugging on The Situation Room, then I’ll know that my work here is done.

7 Thoughts

  1. Count me in. I’m always looking for a way to face the day with a more positive approach. It’s so easy to be vaccuummed into the negativity that Satan wants us to engage in. I try a bit harder everyday to make people smile. After reading this, tomorrow I will try harder. A comment on loss. I have those I have accepted and those I struggle with. The loss of my brother Lamar brings me to my core daily. I speak of him often so I can keep him close to me. I often wonder if that bores my friends. It’s my coping mechanic ism. I believe God surrounds us with wonderful people everyday. We must find them and nourish those relationships. Those relationships shape our lives. They make us smarter, funnier, more loving, and better for having them. That is why when they,re gone it’s so painful. Love to all who love me.

    1. Well, I definitely love you “One L.” Your stories about Lamar make us chuckle. I talked about Grady every week for years. That, too, was my means to cope with that terrible loss. It was either that or therapy, and I chose to keep my few coins to myself–glad I did. 🙂 Thanks for accepting the challenge, Michele. Remember, we don’t want anyone to be teetering between survival and maintenance.

  2. Wow Michelle! Most times when I read your posts, I often become inspired to write my own thoughts. My post about my grandparents was actually inspired by the one you wrote about your cousin. I am up for the challenge! I know very few people who give good hugs and when they do, I make sure to tell them so. I usually get an extra one! You are one! Lord, help us to be ever attentive to those around us who teetering between survival and maintenance respond accordingly as Your hands, Your feet, Your voice and Your heart. Thank you Michelle!

    1. I love you dearly, Charlene. You, too, are a great hugger indeed. I will be forever grateful for that day at WLDI when you reached out to me. I didn’t know what the Lord had in store for us, but I knew I needed to be obedient. 🙂

  3. Awww, Michelle, thank you for those kind words. I, too, needed that hug! I knew, from the moment we met that we shared the same deep faith. May we never shy away from offering those hugs! Blessings to you, dear friend.

    For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19

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