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by Amy Nappa

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“I enjoy embracing people.” (Thelma Wells)

    How much do you know about hugging? Sure, you’ve hugged some folks in your lifetime. I have too. But let’s consider the facts:

  • Hugs are not fattening. They don’t cause cancer or give you cavities. They’re cholesterol-free, and they don’t contain any artificial sweeteners or chemical additives.
  • Hugs don’t require any special instructions, batteries, or tune-ups.
  • Hugs are nontaxable, fully returnable, and can be used in all kinds of weather.
  • Thelma Wells may hold the world’s record for hugging the most people.

    You may have heard of Thelma Wells from the popular Women of Faith series of conferences and books. She travels, speaks, and writes on faith and women’s issues with Sheila Walsh, Luci Swindoll, Patsy Clairmont, and others. What you may not know is that Thelma worked professionally for years in the fields of teaching and banking. She started her own business in 1980. And she has been a motivational speaker at universities, government agencies, and corporations, speaking on such topics as stress management, self-esteem, and cultural diversity. As you can imagine, a wide variety of people have attended her sessions.

    Why do I mention these details? Because everywhere Thelma goes, she has a “hug line.” She doesn’t just hug people at Christian conferences. She believes in the power of touch and practices it no matter where she is!

    “I understand it takes about twelve hugs a day for us to perform at our peak,” Thelma explains. “All of my professional life, if people would allow me to hug them, I did. At the end of my seminars — whether it was in government or colleges or universities or wherever — I would say, ‘Okay, I enjoy hugging, so if you need a hug today, come by. I won’t hug you unless you let me. But come on by.’ People seek me out now at conferences — those who have come before. They say, ‘All I wanted was that hug.”’

    From corporate “suits” to college kids to government officials, people everywhere literally line up for Thelma to hug them. And hug them she does! She realizes that she’s doing more than putting her arms around them — she’s touching their hearts with something from God.

    “There is something about the human touch that not only touches the human body, but touches the spirit and the soul,” she says. “And I enjoy embracing people with a godly hug.

    “Whenever I’m getting ready to minister — whether it’s with a hug, a speech, or a song — I always pray, ‘Lord, don’t let me do this on my own, but let it be the Holy Spirit that is within me. You move in the way you see fit. I’m just here for you. It’s not about me.”’

    So what’s been the result of all this hugging? Thelma likes to answer that question by telling a story. Here it is in her own words:

There is a wonderful woman — I won’t say her name because she’s pretty famous — who was at a conference where I was speaking. I didn’t know who she was at the time. She seemed to be trying to slip by me without hugging me or saying anything. But I noticed her in the crowd, and she looked like she needed a hug.

So I said, “Excuse me just a minute,” to the lady I was talking to, and called out, “Hey you! Going by right there! Come here!”

The woman said, “Me?” and I said, “Yes, you.” So she came over and I said, “You know what? You really need a hug.” And I hugged her and held her. At first she was reluctant, but then she just got limp. And as I hugged her, I prayed for her, even though I didn’t know what I was praying for.

Later I happened to go to an event where this woman was in concert. And I said, “Oh my goodness! That’s that lady!” She came up to me and said, “Do you remember me ?” I said, “Yes.” Then she told me, “The day you called me over to hug me was the lowest day of my life. I was wondering, ‘Does anybody care? Does anybody love me?’ And that hug saved my life.”

Wow! She had had a lot of problems in her life. But she got a hug just in time. So you see, it’s essential that we hug people.

    The wonderful thing about a woman’s touch is that people really want it! We’re not trying to get people to eat okra or wear itchy wool undergarments. By offering a loving touch, we’re offering something people not only need but want.

There’s a healing of the spirit that takes place when we touch others.
    Jesus always touched people wherever he went. It’s interesting that while he certainly had the power to heal people from afar, over and over we read of him going to where people were and healing them with a physical touch.

    I’m not suggesting we have the power to heal physical conditions with our human fingers. But I do believe there’s a healing of the spirit that takes place when we touch others. There’s a comfort that can’t be found anywhere else but in a touch or a hug. Somehow, God’s love and power is shared with others through the simplicity of our physical touch.

    Have you heard of World Hug Week? It occurs every year during the third week of July. The goal of this week is to encourage everyone to hug three people a day for seven days, and to ask those three people to do the same. You can start today! Give the people around you the touches they’re craving.

    Get that hug line going!

    Loving Lord, thank you for putting your arms around me and loving me right where I am. Show me someone who needs a hug today, and help me to touch them with your love.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with Compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)

 
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      © From her book, "A Woman's Touch: The Fingerprints Left Behind" © 2001, Howard Publishing Company. Used by permission. This article cannot be reprinted in another publication without written permission of the publisher. Click here to buy this title online!

      Title: ""
      Author: Amy Nappa
      Publication Date: July 24, 2003


 

 
 
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