One of the hardest parts of the coronavirus social distancing is the lack of human touch, which is a fundamental need that we all have. I am a hugger, and it's been extremely hard not to be able to …
One of the hardest parts of the coronavirus social distancing is the lack of human touch, which is a fundamental need that we all have. I am a hugger, and it's been extremely hard not to be able to hug my children, grandchildren and friends. Air hugs just do not cut it. I remember the first time after months of not being able to get close to anyone except my husband when a friend finally asked if I minded if she hugged me. I was eager for that first hug and it brought such joy.
After a while longer with no further hugging, we finally decided, right or wrong, that we were going to hug our children and grandchildren again. It's a normal practice in our family to hug each other hello and good-bye, and we had all missed it so much.
This time of isolation and loss of human touch has been especially hard on those who live alone and have had to work from home. They have very minimal contact with the outside world, and virtual meetings can in no way substitute for connection, interaction, touching others and being face-to-face.
Besides the whole discomfort of wearing masks, the worst part for me has been the fact that others cannot see that I'm smiling at them. A smile is the first part of interaction with others, and it shows acceptance, caring and love. I am finding it harder and harder to look strangers in the eyes behind our masks when I know they can't tell I'm smiling at them. We are losing something very precious during this Covid season.
I am reminded of the lepers who walked the earth at the same time that Jesus did. Receiving a diagnosis of leprosy was almost worse than a death sentence. Having this incurable, infectious disease made one an outcast. Lepers were forced to leave their homes, families, friends and communities, and signified the end of belonging and the end of being touched. If anyone came near, they had to shout, “Unclean, unclean!”, and had to beg for charity to survive.
But those whom the world set aside as untouchables were embraced by Jesus. He loved the leper, the blind, the sinner and foreigners, those rejected by society. One day a man covered with leprosy fell to the ground and begged Jesus to make him clean. Luke 5:13 says, “Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man… And immediately the leprosy left him.”
For the first time in years, someone cared enough to look this man in the eyes and show compassion by touching him. It only took one touch from Jesus to not only heal this leper's body but also his hurting heart that had longed for human touch. Jesus loved the outcasts, and His love changed their lives. It still does today.
I am not advocating that we throw caution to the wind and refuse to social distance and wear our masks. But we still need to be the hands and feet of Jesus. There are many around us who may not be leprous outcasts, but they have been made to leave their sources of connection and interaction with others. They are yearning for that human touch, even if it still has to be an air hug. Reach out and share the love of Jesus with a hurting soul today.
Hope Ministries is a Christian counseling center, and we are here to help. If you would like to speak confidentially with someone, give us a call at 482-5300.