Did you know that today, June 29th is the national “Hug Holiday”?
Well, according to the national holiday calendar of unusual, weird, or wacky holidays, “this very special day was created by the “Hugs for Health Foundation.”
While I haven’t been able to locate the foundation or the source or creator of this holiday, there is medical documentation that giving and receiving hugs has physical, mental, and emotional benefits. In a paper “For the Heart,” by St. Luke’s hospital, Dr. James O’Keefe, discussed the importance of good relationships to our physical and mental health.
O’Keefe referenced a Harvard Study that began in 1937, which followed one entire class of students for over 70 years. The study followed them through college. Careers. Marriages. Divorces. Illnesses. And death. Dr. O’Keefe said, ‘The study focused on how different behaviors are linked with various outcomes in terms of health, happiness, and longevity.” And what did the Harvard Study reveal? The physical director concluded, “The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships with other people.”
In the last section of the paper, Paul Zak wrote a piece entitled. “Rx: Eight Hugs Daily.” Zak, who is identified as “a renowned researcher, has spent his career studying the hormone oxytocin,” documents the importance of this hormone for our mental, physical and emotional well-being. He said it stimulates feelings of affection. Engenders trust. And forges interpersonal bonds. He says it is “the hormonal basis of love and prosperity…and leads to loyalty, generosity, and cooperation.”
In the beginning, when God created Adam, He said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Then God made a woman and brought her to Adam. God ordained, ordered, and arranged the family as a special relationship to meet each other’s needs.
Similarly, He planned and purposed a spiritual family that also meets our unique needs. Religious writer and minister Rick Warren is fond of saying that God created us for community, fashioned us for family. And formed us for fellowship.
While the Bible isn’t a book of psychology or a mental health guide, isn’t this what the Word teaches us? In appropriate ways and in the right circumstances we are created to display affection, share feelings and show love.
“Rejoice with the wife of your youth…always be enraptured with her love.” Prov. 5:18
“…There is a time to embrace…” Eccl. 3:5
“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love” Rom 12:10
“Greet one another with a holy kiss” Rom 16:16
Furthermore, have you ever noticed how many times Jesus used physical touch when he healed someone?
- A man with leprosy (Matt 8:2-3).
- Peter’s mother-in-law (Mk. 1:30-31).
- A 12-year-old girl He raised from the dead (Lk. 8:54-55).
- Two blind men in Capernaum (Matt 9:29-30).
- A deaf man in Decapolis ((Mk. 7:32-35).
- A blind man in Jerusalem (Jn 9:1, 6-7).
- A boy tormented by a demon (Mk. 9:27).
- Two blind men near Jericho (Matt. 20:30, 33-34)
- A woman in the synagogue who couldn’t stand straight (Lk. 13:11-3).
The physical touch of Jesus in his interactions with people was more than just a “healing touch” it was a way to connect with others. To show His concern, care, and compassion for them.
Among the many aspects of the pandemic that felt strange, unusual, and abnormal during the past year was “social distancing.” No handshakes. No hugs. No physical touch. It’s a good feeling with that restriction diminishing.
Thoughtful and appropriate hugs say, “I love you.” “It’s good to see you.” “I’ll miss you.” “I feel your hurt.” “Thank you.” “I want to help.” “You’re special to me.” Robert Hensel was right he observed, “Feel the presence of love wrapped up within a hug.”
Johnny Ray Ryder, Jr. expressed it this way, “There’s something in a simple hug that always warms the heart. It welcomes us back home and makes it easier to part.”
So, celebrate today. Hug a friend. A family member. A neighbor. Someone who needs encouragement. It will warm your heart. And lift their spirits.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman