Sometimes hugs speak volumes.
They did in the case of Dr. Kent Brantly. As he was being released from Emory Hospital with reports that he was free of the Ebola virus, all twenty-one of his nurses and orderlies and all five of his doctors gave him a hug.
The message? Sure, they had warm feelings for this person that had been under their constant critical care. But the scene being played out said that Brantly was no longer a public health threat. It was an important message to send. Fear of Ebola spreading and getting a foothold in the U.S. had been itself like a contagious virus growing on social media.
Maybe you can relate. What we don’t know or understand can create disconnectedness between us and others.
I know. In 1987 my wife and I had moved to Denver, Colorado to do ministry work. We were barely settled in when one day I got a call at the church office. It was a young couple in need of some groceries.
We had plenty in our church pantry so I told them I’d bag up some food and bring it to them. I got their address and was ready to go when, right before I hung up the phone, the husband said, “There’s one more thing I need to tell you. My wife has AIDS.”
I have to admit. There were a few seconds of silence.
In 1987 we still didn’t know much about AIDS and how it was transmitted. Handshakes? Coughs? We had just found out my wife was pregnant with our first child. And in that silence my mind was pregnant with fear of what “might” happen if I went to this couple’s apartment.
Fear of what I didn’t know didn’t rule that day. I said something like, “Thanks for letting me know that. But I’ll be there in about twenty minutes.”
The couple I met was quiet, sweet, and probably the most scared I’d ever seen. They were unsure of their future. The husband’s love for his wife was evident. We talked and laughed some and I prayed for them.
And before I walked out their door I was compelled to stop, turn around, and give them both a hug. They needed it. I probably needed it more.
Want to love your life more? Start by not letting fear of the unknown keep you from connecting with others. The fear may be of a disease that creates discomfort in you that makes you keep your distance. It could be a different background or culture or skin color.
It can feel safer to stick to what you know. But don’t.
- Take a step in their direction.
- Ask questions.
- Make the unknown the known.
- Dismantle some barriers so you can see the person.
You’ll find yourself connecting more. And when you do you’ll find more of yourself. You were made to connect.
And every so often give a hug.
Question: Have you ever allowed your “fear of the unknown” to keep you from moving closer to another? What helped you not let that fear rule the day?