To anybody that knows me, (and can anybody really know anybody else?), they would readily affirm that I am not addicted to hugging. Let me point out very quickly I am not allergic to it either. I just believe a good hearty handshake says everything I want to say to anybody I meet.
This is biblical. The Bible talks about extending to one another the right hand of fellowship, and nothing says it better than a firm, hearty handshake. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.
I usually reserve my hugs for the little people in my life, like my grandchildren and their friends. The smaller they are the more they need a hug. But that is my limit. Although, I have been waylaid on occasion, none of it was my doing. I stick firm to a good handshake and leave the hugging to other people.
I do not criticize people who like to hug. I just am not one of them. I like what my grandfather used to say, “To each his own.”
Recently, certain events brought me to the point of challenging my whole theory of hugology.
It all began at the end of a rather busy Sunday. My Sundays at the church begin at 8 a.m. and concludes somewhere around 8 p.m. Of course, I go home for lunch and a quick nap in the afternoon, but my whole day is devoted to the church. And I like it that way. If it were up to me, there would be seven Sundays in a week.
I was driving home from church late one Sunday evening and said to myself, “I sure am thirsty and could go for a nice cold Diet Pepsi.”
So I said, “Self, let’s go get a soda.” And on that note, I set my sights on satiating both of our thirsts.
Not far from my house is a grocery store that is open late Sunday night. I parked in the parking lot and moseyed on in to purchase my drink. I thought of buying two, one for me and one for myself, but then how would I explain that to the “Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage.” I immediately found the soda and walked up to the cashier to pay for my purchase and then saunter on home and enjoy the Diet Pepsi.
Standing in line I overheard the gentleman in front of me talking to the cashier and I gathered that they were married.
After paying for his purchase the cashier stepped from a behind the register and they hugged and kissed right there in front of God and everybody. Being two brain cells short of an idiot, I said loud enough so everybody could hear me, “I guess I got in the right line tonight.”
Everybody looked at me and we all shared a wonderful and hearty laugh. I love it when a joke comes together. When it is well timed and wondrously articulated, it is a joy forever.
I turned and talked to the person behind me who thoroughly enjoyed the humor of the moment. I have found that humor brings more people together than anything else. And there is nothing like a good laugh to cheer a spirit that may be sagging for a moment. It seems everybody has problems these days, and a smile goes a long way.
And in this, I am in complete harmony with the Bible. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22 KJV). And from some of the people I have encountered recently, there is a great need for this kind of medicine.
Finally, it was my turn to pay. She greeted me warmly and then processed my purchase. We exchanged some pleasantries and then I was about to leave the store with my Diet Pepsi.
It was then that I was caught by surprise. The cashier stepped from behind her post and said to me, “Sir, here’s your hug for tonight.” And before my two brain cells could get their act together, I was in the middle of a hug.
When the aforementioned brain cells recovered, I finally thought, “I hope she’s not going to kiss me.”
Thankfully, she didn’t. But the rest of the customers clapped rather heartily. Too heartily if you ask me.
We often judge people according to our own personal preference. If we like something, we assume everybody else likes the same thing. If, on the other hand, we think something is wrong we believe everybody should have that same conviction.
The apostle Paul dealt with this kind of thing in the days of the early church. “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (1 Corinthians 10:23 KJV).
Sometimes we need to be careful what we say and what we do.
The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, Ocala, Fla. You can e-mail him at email@example.com.