I love hugs. I love what they communicate between two human beings. I love how it feels to hug someone you haven’t seen in months or years, someone who you missed with every fiber of your being. It’s almost unbelievable how deeply comforting it can be to have someone hold you while your tears flow freely onto their shirt. To hug someone is to fully accept all that they are in that very moment and to communicate unconditional love and care regardless of what the circumstances are that led up to that hug.
Another word for a hug is an embrace. There’s one definition of this word that means to hug, but in case you’ve forgotten, the word embrace is a homonym. The other definition for embrace is as follows: “to accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically.”
I’m learning to embrace and even to engage with some of the God-given things about myself, like unruly hair and a strange affinity for chilly weather and the ability to put words together on a page and make them sound nice. Also, I have just decided to make the word embrace my word for 2016. I’ve never done this before, honestly in part because I think it’s kind of full of corny poop. But it hit me differently today – that’s exactly how I want to spend this year: embracing it. I want to learn how to fully embrace people and things and opportunities my sweet One sets in front of me.
I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of wasting time. I’m tired of getting to the end of the day and feeling frustrated and depressed because I don’t feel that I’ve stewarded the things the Lord has given me very well. I’m tired of settling: for mediocrity, for apathy, for un-creativity, for lackadaisical relationships and a lethargic prayer life, for half-assing instead of whole-assing things (thanks Ron Swanson). I’m tired of waking up and failing to realize how wonderful it is to be alive and active in Manhattan, Kansas on any given Tuesday. I’m tired of living as though things could be better. I’m tired of waiting around for joy to come to me through material things or other people or a relationship or a comfortable, happy life instead of embracing the One who promises to provide the only real kind of joy, no questions asked and no hesitancy involved and no need to try to earn it.
Romans 8:28 reminds us that everything – every moment, every life event, any flavor of circumstance – is God-breathed and purpose-filled. I think some of what Paul is saying to the believers in Rome here as he’s talking about the power of the Spirit and God’s plan for humanity is that they need to stop being so dang fearful. And I also think that the opposite of being fearful or anxious about something is to embrace it. If you’re able to really wrap your arms around something – even something or someone that might have at one time seemed like a threat to you – you’ve realized that it’s not worth running away from anymore. It’s not worth the bitterness and resentment and anger and sadness and even depression that comes with fearfulness.
So, instead of settling for anything less, this year I’m embracing a faithful and loving Jesus and everything that He offers me with outstretched arms. We’ll see how it goes.