I am a hugger. I know how important it is to hug at funerals and crisis. I have always looked for those who live without enough hugs and at least share mine. However, instead of just giving a hug; I receive one in return, a wonderful, warming, encouraging hug surrounding me and meeting some need I didn’t know I had. Hugs should always give more than they take. It’s one of the big differences between what we teach our children about “good” hugs and “bad” hugs.
I am learning that a time to embrace doesn’t always mean a hug. A quick word study reminds me that the prefix em means to furnish with, surround, or cover. Brace means to make stronger or support. Put them together and you have a word that means to surround yourself or someone else with something that supports and strengthen and to do it willingly.
If we embrace the day, we live through it in a way that strengthens. If we embrace a change, we do it to bring a strength that will make a productive difference. That meaning suggests not only what we do, but what happens to us. Often, what we embrace has already embraced us in our thoughts, imagination, hope, and most certainly by God’s gentle whisper.
But what if you aren’t a hugger. What if allowing something new into your familiar world comes slowly or only by force? What do you do with a time to embrace? Stand like a steel beam, unmoved and unmoveable? Resist the strength-giving opportunity to lose your equilibrium in a new direction or relationship that could strengthen? I hope not.
I am learning that the first step in a readiness to embrace, especially something that doesn’t feel warm and fuzzy at the outset, is the need to identify the reality I would rather resist. When I face a reality I don’t like, I have two choices: accept it or deny it. If truth frees, then resisting reality imprisons. I can’t hope reality away. I must embrace it so that I can share its strength.
The first time my husband tried to present the facts surrounding our need to move and move quickly, everything in me wanted to deny that he was right. But he was. When I accepted the truth of my unwanted reality, it came with a set of other unsavory tasks: sorting, de-cluttering, packing, leaving, saying good-bye. I am still in the process of embracing this change and all the changes it brings with it, the adventure and the frustration, the new and the loss of familiar, the easy and the hard, the circle of family but the loss of friends. Slowly, I am embracing this time and beginning to feel its strength surround me in ways that are shaping me for what God has planned. Growth begins in that moment of accepting a reality for what it is and not what you want it to be.
Acceptance is not resignation. It isn’t a giving up to let new circumstances rule. In the life of a surrendered Christian, circumstances do not rule. God does. For that reason, we do not embrace a loss, a fear, an insecurity, or any other negative because they share no strength. We embrace the God of unfailing love who sees us through new circumstances and every change. We know our Who even when we do not know our what, when, or where.
What does God want you to embrace? Who needs the support of your encouraging hug? Make today a day to embrace. Face truth; live the change. Be shaped. Be strengthened. Be loved. As Paul put it, “take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of [you]. "(Philippians 3:12)