A couple of months ago, I watched (through the window) my mother’s hands shaking with excitement as she held up a card someone had sent to her. At 93, she couldn’t read every word, but I noticed the card was half torn at the seam from her opening and closing it. She is lonely in all of this isolation, and the fact that someone reached out to her meant more than anything else could mean at the moment. Someone found a way to touch her! Wow!
Every day that I talk with her, I realize how important touch is to her. When I would sit outside her window and talk, her mood would change. This was our new norm, but now I’ve been approved to be a personal sitter to her. So, I get to visit her inside her room.
Touch Saves Us
Today, we all gathered—the staff, mother, and me with our masks on and talked about Christmas memories. Mother was elated! Her joy spilled over as she recalled in detail all the things about Christmas Eve that were so fun for our family. Suddenly the darkness that is such a clinging vibe in our world today disappeared. I could have hugged each person there, but I didn’t. I gave them virtual “air” hugs instead.
My simple bachelor’s degree in counseling and psychology reminds me that we are people who need fellowship. We need one another, and we need touch.
Jesus was with people every day. They touched Him, and He touched them, and He reaches out to touch you today.
His touch was healing. So, what is your deepest need today? You have one—we all do. Fellowship, security, and acceptance give us courage to hope for the future. God offers all of this through His Son—the Lord Jesus Christ.
I “get” the Mask Thing
Isolation is mentally crippling, but touch is basic to mental health. Do I believe that while we are in the middle of Covid-19 we need to maintain our distance? Absolutely!
I understand how germs can and are transmitted—from one to another. Here’s my cancer groan (for those of you who have to endure my “war stories”). After my chemo was over, my immune system was wacked out. And I caught two serious colds from well-meaning people, who just wanted to hug me and tell me they had been praying for me. So, I get the danger.
I always would say: “If chemo doesn’t kill me, the love of others may!” But there’s an even deeper danger in saying “no touching ever again.”
The world we live in is terribly broken from the lack of honest and pure relationships. We already are a community of “surface” people. By this I mean we say hello and ask, “How are you?” But we don’t really stop and take time to listen for the response. We are all about “me” and not about others.
Below are my 3 positives from touch (there are many more). But first, let me challenge you to find a way to “touch” someone this Christmas with a letter, a card, a smile from your eyes behind your protective mask! Ask God to show you how to love one another in a way that is appropriate.
Touch reduces social anxiety, stress, and depression You may not realize it, but there are plenty of people around you struggling with hidden fears and anxieties. It’s not fun to be alone for great lengths of time, especially at Christmas. Touch sends a signal that you are not alone. It’s a point of connection. Through touch you say: “You count. You are accepted and loved.” And it’s true: God loves you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3) Nothing can change this! That’s key.
Don’t give into this “cancel” society thing. In fact, my challenge is to stay connected even though there are differences. You can do this! Don’t cancel others or you may just find yourself feeling pretty canceled, too.
Touch boosts the immune system and lowers blood pressure Isolation is a tactic used in warfare to break prisoners. It can break us. But touch releases hormones that reduce feelings of depression. This is why it’s so important to stay in touch with family and friends. Call them.
Meet someone and go for a walk or a hike outside. Talk to a neighbor over a six-foot distance. Laugh! It releases good chemicals in your body! Live because you know that Satan does not want you to live, laugh, love, or care for another person, who may be different than you. His goal is single-minded. Separate, divide and then conquer. Don’t fall for it. Love covers (Proverbs 10:12) Love is eternal; because God is love, and He is eternal (1 John 4:16). Period!
Touch inspires HOPE The very thing we need the most is hope but often this is the last thing we offer one another. We tend to chide someone these days and not think much about it. Touch says, “Hello. I accept you and you are not alone.” “I’m here, you are here, and we have common threads running through our lives.” Please don’t give up. Hope!
Years ago, an older gentleman would call me at work. I was the senior editor of a large Christian magazine, so I would get all the random calls that involved our publication. That’s what editors do: they listen. This one particular person would call me around lunch time about once a week to rant about something he had read in the magazine.
Honestly, at first, I wanted to hang up on him. When the calls became regular at a certain time, I would watch the blinking light on my phone and think: Isn’t there someone else?! What I didn’t know was there was no one else.
He was a Catholic, and he was certain that we were anti-Catholic. I always reassured him that we were not and that everything we wrote was written for a broad group of people—unless you did not believe in God. Then those calls were usually forwarded to another department.
So, each week he called and each week I listened—patiently explaining the reasons why we wrote what we wrote. I began to sense these calls were important. Finally, one day, he broke down in tears.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“No,” he responded and then he went on to explain that he was living alone in New York City in a very large apartment building. He didn’t know his neighbors and the only person who would listen to him was ME. His son dropped by once a week with food, but he never stayed. He felt alone.
My heart broke. “You can call me anytime,” I remember saying while fighting back my own tears.
He countered, “I don’t want to bother you, and I know I’m a person who bothers others.”
“No, you are not bothering me. In fact, tell me more . . . .”
The greatest gift you can give someone this Christmas does not come in an Amazon box! It’s the gift you give from your heart to another. Touch. I know you “get” what I’m saying.
Tell someone today: I’m sending a virtual hug your way and later we will hug again — once this season is behind us. Take time to listen. Take time to talk. Just take time!