Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to forsake assembling ourselves together. Of course, this is to worship and praise the Lord. I think there is another reason, too, for this reminder to get together. God created us and He knows exactly what we need in order to survive. We need Him, we need each other, and in order to thrive, we need to be lovingly touched.
In our everyday world, we enjoy reading e-mail messages from our family and friends. We are really happy if we have a chunk of time for a leisurely telephone conversation, but the special times with family and friends are the times we spend together – face to face. Those are the times we share an affectionate touch.
It is not unusual at family gatherings to see relatives laughing and hugging each other, or patting each other on the back. We may not realize how important these gestures of affection and belonging are to us.
I feel blessed that I was raised in a family of affection-sharing, touchy, people. I was totally content when Mom or Dad brushed my hair, rubbed my feet or creepied my back. (Creepy is a light, gentle, feathery fingertip motion and it feels wonderful!) Sometimes, when Mom was just too busy, my brother would ask me to creepy his back. I got smart pretty quickly and started charging him a quarter for thirty minutes of creepy time. See, touch really does have value!
One priceless touch that I will always treasure was given to me the day my husband to be told his parents we were planning to marry. The kind words of welcome from his mom were appreciated, but it was her happy hug that assured me I would be accepted into her heart.
One night, a couple of months after we married, my husband came home from work with tired, aching feet. I offered him a foot rub. He was shocked! He thought feet were supposed to stay hidden inside socks and shoes, rarely seen and never touched. Well, I might not should have worked so hard at convincing him, because it soon became a weekly ritual. Now, many years later, he is still enjoying his weekly foot rubs.
Becoming a mother convinced me more than ever that touch is essential. When my sons were babies, holding them close to my heart and rocking them could sooth a colicky stomach and gently settle them into sleep. When they were older, they loved roughhousing with their dad and sitting on his shoulders or riding piggy back on his back. Oh, yes, they also wanted to have their backs creepied. As teenagers, they both participated in sports. Many nights, they would come home from football or basketball practice, throw a quilt on the living room floor and ask me to massage their aching calves or painful shoulders. Touch was not just comforting and pleasing to them, it was a vital part of their well-being. I must admit, it was also a vital part of my well-being as a mom.
There are certain critical moments in each of our lives when we crave a comforting touch from someone we love. I remember walking into Mom’s house a few months before she died. I was hurting; my emotions were in turmoil. At that particular time, Mom was very frail. She was sitting at her dining room table when I walked in. “Mom, I need to hold you.” She took one look at my tear-stained face and replied, “No, Sister, I think you need me to hold you.” She painfully straightened her little body, rose slowly from that chair, and enveloped me in a wonderfully huge bear hug. I sobbed and she held on until I was quieter. You know, I don’t remember why I was distraught, but I will always remember exactly how I felt as I absorbed the comfort of Mom’s healing touch.
Then there are the times of pure joy when hugs of happiness can’t be denied. You could not stand back from these hugs if you tried. When my grandson was little, he noticed when his family was about to turn onto our street, and he got excited! By the time he was out of the car, he was running wide open up to the house, through the doorway, and full-speed ahead straight into my open arms. He would go into the toy room to play, but after a while, he would run into the kitchen or living room and give me another of his tackle hugs. I remember thinking, “Pretty soon, this little guy will be knocking me down with his ‘oh-so-happy’ running hugs!”
My granddaughters were a bit calmer. They wanted lots of hugs, but they also enjoyed painting my nails or brushing my hair. Touching was natural to them and they thought grandmas were made for touching.
Each one of my grandchildren loved to have their back creepied. When our visits came to an end and their parents were about to take them home, the kids and I exchanged hugs and held on a bit – we liked hello better than goodbye (still do, in fact). I usually walked with them to the car; holding hands, of course.
Holding hands, foot rubs, a pat on the back, a gentle hug – touching each other is not something that we can put off until we’re not so busy. Planning time to be with family and friends should happen now; not only during special occasions or holidays. It is not enough to e-mail or telephone; we must gather together so that our affection can be expressed by touch. It reassures us that we really are special, we are valued and loved, and we have a unique place of belonging. We have family and friends. It reminds us, too, that we are all members of a much larger family – a family of believers with an awesome, loving Heavenly Father. One day, His gentle, holy touch will welcome us home.