They don't ask for hugs as often as they used to, but they still ask, especially when they are tired, anxious, sad or otherwise feeling the need to be loved or reassured.
It feels great when our kids ask for a hug without asking by opening their arms, sitting close, or leaning their head into my chest. Instinctively I wrap my arms around and squeeze. For a few moments all is well for them and for me as we simply enjoy a connected embrace that communicates thousands of words.
"I love you"
"I've missed you"
"I hurt for you"
"I wish I could make it better"
"I forgive you"
"I wish I could protect you from hurt and disappointment"
Recently, each of our three kids reached for a hug within an hour or a day of a hurtful conversation or disappointing behavior. Since I'm personally on a journey of learning to live loved by Abba (God), I'd taken my hurt and disappointment to Him. Then, when my children came to me for a hug I simply loved instead of instructing or correcting. That felt good, AND it worked well as a parenting response. Simply loving them made space for self-correction.
"Daddy, I'm sorry for what I said. It was wrong and I know it hurt your feelings."
"No, you're right dad. It's not been an easy day, but it probably wouldn't have happened if I'd been where you asked me to be when you asked me to be there."
Jesus was clear that we would face many troubles in this world, and that we could take heart because He overcame the world! Day after day the challenges and disappointments continue. Personally, I'm learning when I feel angst in my breast to reach for my Abba. He makes everything ok by reassuring that He loves me.
Daddy, can I have a hug?
Learning to live loved,
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