Have you hugged someone today?

By Joan Clayton: PNT religion columnist

I think we should have a “Hug Day.” I would be lost if I didn’t have hugs from friends and loved ones. Hugs make me happy. Hugs tell me someone likes me, and that fills me with delight.

I feel it takes hugs for one’s well being. I read somewhere that husbands who hug their wives live, on average, five years longer than those who do not.

Many years of teaching little people brought hugs as far as they could reach. I hugged back at least 25 times a day. Guess what? My students have grown up, and I get lots of hugs these days!

Lots of cats and dogs came with the rearing of our three boys. Even though the pets aggravated me sometimes, I must admit just a pat on the head sent a signal of love.

I’m sure pet trainers agree animals cannot be trained without meaningful touches.

My aunts in the rest home looked forward to my husband’s hugs. I hugged Uncle Steve and left a kiss on the top of his head so the nurses could tease him about lipstick.

“Women are just attracted to me,” he answered with laughs. Our hugs and kisses for my relatives added sparkle to their lonely days.

One day, when our granddaughter was 4, she had her arms around herself. I asked her what she was doing. “I’m hugging Jesus. He lives in my heart you know.”

Hugs can cheer you when you’re down. They soothe someone’s pain and bring sunshine to life again. Meeting a friend on the street with a hug makes my day.

Hugging is one of the human ways to express affection. Special touches restore self-esteem as it did in Bible times. I have found many examples of hugs in the Bible:

• Laban embraced Jacob in Genesis 29:13.

• Esau ran and embraced Jacob in Genesis 33:4.

• Jacob embraced Joseph in Genesis 46:29.

• The father hugged the prodigal son in Luke 15:20.

I find security in Deuteronomy 33:27: “The eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms, and he shall thrust out the enemy before thee.” When I have trouble relaxing and falling asleep, I think of the “everlasting arms” of Jesus surrounding me and holding me tight. The next thing I know it is morning … another exciting day to give a hug.

I think God gave us arms to hug. When I receive hugs from others, I feel God is giving me a hug, too. “God is love. Those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them” (1 John 4:16 NCV).

The next time you feel down or see someone else feeling down, give a little hug. It will make both of you feel better.

“It’s wondrous what a hug can do,

Bringing blessings for both of you.

It lifts one up when feeling low

Say, “I want a hug before I go!”

Reach out today with a hug and see

How happy someone else will be.”