I am an awkward hugger.
In the short span of a hug, questions fly—millions of thoughts wreaking havoc in my mind:
Do my arms go over or under? Or do I do the side hug? What on earth, do I do with my hands? Do I turn my head? Ugh. Do I smell bad? No? Good. Yes, this is good. Nope. Too long. How long do we hug? How do I end the hug? Who is supposed to end the hug first? Am I supposed to be thinking this much?
It appears that I can’t seem to simply rest in an embrace.
If you ever see me at church, you can see my social coping mechanisms at play. If I’m holding a coffee cup or my phone in my hands: boom! Instant barrier. I can hug without worrying about my arms or hands. Better yet, if you see me constantly on the move, it’s because you can’t hug a moving target!
My social anxieties aside, my confession is this: I crave this closeness. The intimacy of comfort, trust, and affection. But sometimes, I forget how to draw near. To others. To God.
Two decades ago, on a perfect sunny day in July, one person ruined hugs for me. As a result, the affection I crave is the one I have come to approach with trepidation and fear. I hesitate before I hug, measuring the level of trust before I decide to feel.
But, in the months of loneliness that followed, God met me. He drew me closer and closer until I accepted this truth.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish;
You destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.
It is good to be near to God. My soul can be at rest in his presence. And this is the story I can tell.
In that moment, when I chose God because he first chose me, I drew close to Him, leaned into the love of his Son, and heard the gentle whisper of his Spirit. I let that truth wrap around me, and was forever changed.
I thought about that moment a lot this week. In this current season of uncertainty, I have forgotten the simple goodness that is drawing near to God.
Sometimes I read the Bible and I only see ink and paper. Sometimes when I pray, I don’t stay still enough to let him hold me. And even when I attend Sunday services, I sometimes become numb to the routine, losing the wonder of adoring Him in the presence of my fellow church family.
In these periods of struggling, I forget the affection I once craved.
Can I cloak myself in wonder whenever I approach God, even if it is through a path I’ve tread many times before? When I open God’s word, can I remember his love? When I sing songs of praise or give gifts of thanks, can I remember that God is pleased when I think of him? When I reach out to others in love or extend a hand with grace, can I be open to what God is doing to my heart?
As it turns out, I need to repeatedly re-learn how to draw near to God.
Here are a few ideas I’m trying out this week:
- Pray before reading God’s Word.
Father, you alone are Good. Remind me of who you are before I read about what you have for me today in Your Word.
- Sing songs of praise. Even if it is the same chorus on repeat, let the words speak truth to me before the lies I tell myself dare to take root.
There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. To break every chain. To break every chain.
- Give. Forgive. Repeat.
Even when it hurts, especially when it’s hard. But it is worth it, Lord, if doing so draws me closer to you.
I believe this task of drawing near to God is worth practicing. It is worth learning once again.
I will be awkward. I will want to wander. But God desires to show affection to his Daughter, and because of his unfailing love, I will rest in His embrace.