A New Name

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  1. Maria
    Sep 24 - 6:15 pm

    That’s funny – I was just thinking about people laying hands in prayer and what I made of it. I concluded quickly that it’s not necessarily about it being a sort of super-hero touch which transfers power, but it’s at the least a simple and powerful reminder of Jesus’ love for humanity, and our love for each other. Definitely sympathise with the point about single people not getting hugs enough (and also especially not in a professional work environment!) – I have to get my dose from my little brother when I visit my family!

  2. Liz
    Sep 24 - 7:20 pm

    ^this. Awesome. I exactly agree that boundaries are necessary, but they have to take into account love.

  3. Beth
    Sep 24 - 8:57 pm

    I like that – I wonder why we don’t put a hand on people when we pray with them….seems to me that that touch is so important and a kind of connection to God through the person praying.
    Its like the Spirit moving from one person to another in prayer. Powerful stuff!

  4. Caroline
    Sep 25 - 1:53 am

    Interesting. It’s so hard for me to get this one right.

    I tend to dread churchy type gatherings with all their touchiness. We move in very touchy circles.

    Too much laying on of hands, too much in my space, too many boobie squashing hugs, too much back rubbing and too much hanging on shoulders.

    Unless you’re a child, or I’m weeping, I prefer the nice affectionate hand shake or heartfelt shoulder squeeze.

    Unfortunately, I am at times a huge part of my problem! I see every one I meet as a hurting soul and I reach out and touch people automatically without even knowing it or meaning to:

    “Why do you always hold onto someone when you talk to them?”
    “I don’t.”
    “Yes, you do. You touch with one hand and talk with the other.”
    “Oh.”

    Also, I tend to flee my body in social situations, so I’m not always immediately aware of the touch of others. For whatever reasons, I am seen as very “open” for hugging (side hugs, front on, coming from behind, etc) and this combination can get down right creepy:

    “Why was D— standing so long with his arm around you out in the hallway?”
    “He wasn’t.”
    “Yes he was.”
    “Oh, I didn’t notice.”
    “What?”

    Proper boundaries are hard for me.

    My husband always stands with arms akimbo and is regarded as a severe touch-me-not (except by children, who see him as a jungle gym.) I’m usually the only one willing to scale those elbows in search of a hug.

    I know we are to be His hands, I just don’t know what that looks like.

  5. Emma
    Sep 25 - 9:04 am

    Good point Caroline: inappropriate contact is equally distressing, (I say this as someone who likes hugs, but only if I know they’re coming).

    The comments you’ve received (‘why did X have his arm around you for so long?’) show how easily things can be misinterpreted, (which is partly why we put boundaries there to start with).

    Loving wisely eh? As usual, I got no answers. But especially for those without families or loved ones nearby; it’s something to think about. And side hugs are just wrong.

  6. Emma
    Sep 25 - 9:10 am

    Liz – that’s a great way of putting it.

    Beth and Maria – interesting points about prayer and laying hands. I agree: it can be very reassuring – but only if the person being prayed for is comfortable with it. There are times when people have laid hands on me and it’s been wonderful – but equally, moments when it’s felt intrusive. Context counts for a lot.

  7. John Orchard
    Sep 25 - 11:09 am

    Is there a link here with the move to individual communion cups? Do we find other people too grubby to touch or share a cup with, and does this hint that we don’t love our church families the way our forebears used to?

  8. Emma
    Sep 25 - 12:57 pm

    I hadn’t considered that John, but yes, I think it is. Relationships are messy – and it can feel safer to stay off.

  9. Andy Wilcock
    Sep 30 - 3:42 pm

    Thank you so much for this Emma. Older people, especially Widowed or divorced, I feel most for. If living on their own may not have physical contact for years. One elderly gentleman at our church used to attend our early morning prayer meeting. And I am sure the greatest attraction was sitting down for a simple breakfast with other people. He may well have gone 15 years of eating alone.

    We need to reach out to those on their own more, to share a hug, or holding off a hand, a dance or a meal.

  10. Emma
    Sep 30 - 5:29 pm

    absolutely Andy.

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