Holy Hugs

The other night, as I tucked my littlest in, I couldn’t help noticing how completely he filled up my arms. I felt a stabbing awareness of the dwindling nature of time. I held him tighter. He nestled in close, and I felt his contentment in the evenness of his breath. My arms to him are a sanctuary, an ever-present shelter of love. As I cradled him to me in the dark, I tried desperately to remember how it felt to be held in such a manner. Try as I might, I could not muster a single memory. Too many years have gone by since I have sought such a sanctuary. Nevertheless, I found myself longing for my mother. I felt an ache inside of me for tender arms to hold me tight.

Does it seem odd for a grown woman to yearn to be held like a child? This time when the resurrection of Christ is still fresh and new always tenders me. My heart is a door wide open, waiting to usher in the love He gave for me. But as I stand at the door, beckoning others to come in and feast on the joy of the season, the ones I love the most just walk on by.

Our expectant hearts feel the resonation of loss all the more during  times of waiting. The fullness of the days can make the quiet of stillness ring in our ears. The season is bittersweet for some. Hearts are cognizant of empty places: loved ones departed, emotional estrangement, abandoned dreams, disappointments and fears. Absence creates a presence that we carry with us as we rush to and fro. And we ask ourselves, how can a season of such joy also spark this kindred sorrow? Is it because, in His coming, we know that all of our losses will be redeemed? Our hope is in this: this waiting.

We are told that out of loss comes growth, that suffering builds strength. I know this is true, for I have experienced it myself. But sometimes, I just want to be held.

For some rifts, there are no easy answers. As I pondered this truth, the Lord directed me to 2 Corinthians 1:3: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort…”

I felt like He had reached down from heaven and wrapped his long arms around me in the biggest bear hug ever. I climbed up into His lap and let His love fill the empty places. My strength was renewed. And I was ready to extend my hand anew.

The door of my heart is open once again. Wide. He gives me the strength to hold it aloft. The one who washed the feet of his followers has taught me to keep trying. Forever if I must. And I will wait.  When I grow weary of waiting, the God of all comfort will wrap me in his arms and pour His love over me. His arms are a sanctuary, an ever-present shelter of love.

Over at High Calling Blogs we’re participating in a Mother’s Day project. You can read about it here.


  1. says

    I think it is something of a lifelong fantasy… sometimes wanting those mother arms. 🙂

    (Hey, good morning, Sunshine! 🙂

    (Yeah, my mom used to say that to me. 🙂

  2. says

    I read about waiting in my Quiet Time this morning Laura. I have been in a long season of waiting. It is during these times, He tells us, that He is doing heart work. I want to be open to the work He wants to do.
    My Mom waits too – for a daughter who walked out of our lives six years ago with no explanation. It is so hard when it is those we love so dearly who shut us out.
    Thank you for this Laura. Always, always He uses your words to minister in a special way.

  3. says

    “For some rifts, there are no easy answers.” When it is family it hurts long and deep. In my family there are two brothers who have walked away. Mom and I pray, so grateful God’s comfort is always there. Thank you for the picture of God’s strong arms holding us close.

  4. says

    I agree with L.L. that each of us has a lifelong desire and need to be deeply embraced.

    You make me want to go to school right now, get my kids out of class and give each of them a great big hug!

  5. says

    Sometimes I think that as we grow up, we think it is strange that we admit that we need loving arms around us to reassure us of a better day ahead. I think about my own kids and how they sought out and responded so contently in my embrace when they were younger and yet as they are growing up, I see them reaching out for my arms less and less. If I am not careful, I can think that they do not need or want my embrace of assurance so much any more. But, the truth is they need it now as much as ever, even as I do.

  6. says

    My family of origin didn’t hug. Every once in a while we would have a group hug, but it was sort of silly–it was just a brief connection. It wasn’t the wrap-you-up-in-comfort-and-protection kind of hug.

    Every once in a while God has given me that same sense of envelopment.

    I’m so glad you wrote this, participating in the Mother’s Day writing project. I’m looking forward to sharing this on Wednesday at HighCallingBlogs.

  7. Anonymous says

    You tell your truth wide, Laura and unashamedly so. Our Lord has done some deep work in your heart and it has tenderized you. It is beautiful in the sight of those who know you.

    The ultimate invitation in our experiences of loss and woundedness is to risk everything we are to continue loving from the cross … to receive it and give it.

    I thank God that as you’ve filled up Abba’s arms with your need in your life and have received the riches of His grace and comfort, you have been instructed in the ways of comforting and grace-giving and have, in turn, grown into a woman whose arms have literally and figuratively opened to receive and hold others.

    Our ministry of reconciliation is a ministry of freely giving what has so abundantly been given to us in Christ Jesus.

    Thank you for the ways you do just that.


  8. says

    This post really touched me, Laura. There is nothing like a mother’s hug, and I sure miss my mother’s sweet, gentle hug. And sometimes, it isn’t the hug we miss so much, but the love in the hug or the eyes that behold us with love. My mother was not a touchy, feely person but I knew she was touching me with her love as she listened to my every word, her eyes holding me tenderly with love. She always had time for me.
    Now when my 27-year-old hugs me, I know he’s giving me his love but also asking for my love.
    Thank you for this beautiful piece.

  9. says

    we are a family of huggers.
    I get and give , it’s healing and life affirming.

    I don’t really have memories of being hugged.

    I think touch is very powerful, and I’ve felt touched by “holy hugs” as Angie says.

  10. says

    Holy hugs to each, and thank you for your encouragement and prayers. God has a beautiful way of filling empty places and please know that you help alleviate the void! Love to you all.

  11. says

    I wish I could wrap each one of you gals up in a warm hug. Hugging is one of the few things I can do- but I never think of it as something that matters much, because it comes easy.My take away from this post was different, but good. A gift. I’m 50 and still crawl in bed with my mom to snuggle when I visit. My girls still do to. I didn’t know to treasure it.

  12. says


    “Beauty from ashes” comes to mind as I read your words acknowledging the pain of longing.

    I especially liked, “Absence creates a presence that we carry with us as we rush to and fro.”

  13. says

    You make me feel it, Laura. You weave words into beautiful tapestries of feeling, longings, emotions heretofore out of reach. Thank you, Bless you, thank you!
    I humbly invite everyone to read my Mothers Day Post too. It is God – given.

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