Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Importance of Human Touch

I continue to meditate on the words I posted regarding Connection in my recent post of that title. You might want to read that along with this one.

I had a pastor friend named Howard many years ago. He once told a group of us that he wanted to buy his newspaper from a girl at the check-out lane. (Mostly women worked the check-out lanes at our local grocery.) We asked him why? He said, I started buying my paper from the metal box on the street. Then one day I was in near the store and went in for my paper. When I gave the woman a dollar, she returned the change and her fingers touched my palm. I knew I'd never buy a paper from the metal box again."

Now Howard was a happily married man. There was absolutely zero sexual overtone in what he said to us that day. He was introducing a devotional thought about how Jesus' touch was so key to his healing ministry.

Today, medical doctors speak of the same. That human touch is healing...vitally so. Babies must have human touch to thrive. Children find human touch natural--hugging, holding your hand, climbing into your lap and kissing a loved-one's cheek. Teens however, are forced to drop this habit in our society. (I wonder if we were more intimate in our non-sexual world, would there be less unhealthy sexual craving?) One of the articles below speaks of this.

I was told when entering the ministry that I should never hug a person in church. I break the rule with regularity. I know there are those uncomfortable with hugs, but there are others who know how to hug in a caring/non-sexual way. And this touch is so healing. There is an 87 year old saint in our congregation who won't let a Sunday pass without hugging me, and telling me she prays for me. She says she needs the hug.

Henri Nouwen speaks of a young mentally handicapped girl who asked for a blessing during one of his workshops. He gave her a canned sign of the cross, and said a quick blessing. She said, "No, I want a real blessing." He was moved to wrap her in the folds of his outer priestly robe and tell her how wonderful she was, how important to God and himself. Then he observed her spiritual radiance and renewed strength.

Now here is a disclaimer. I do not know the authors of the articles listed below, nor their affiliations. However, they seem to do a nice job of expressing the need for human touch. They seem to emphasize strong ethical/moral borders when it comes to touching. But they do suggest the vital need we humans have to be touched.

This link is to an article about the importance of touch for healing of our children. It also addresses briefly the taboos that are involved come adolescence.

Here is a blog post with more information about the necessity of human touch.

Well, I hope I haven't offended anyone. But in a world of cyber-connecting, I felt the need to emphasize the necessity of true connecting.

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. And may he find someone to touch you with his grace.



Zee said...

etouch has a lot of potential. almost always there was touch involved in Jesus' healings (not saying however that touch is necessary)... sometimes it was a weird (or should i say, unconventional) touch, like in healing of a blind man with mud made of dirt and saliva), but it was a touch. and i don't think our traditional phrase "kiss it better" is just a phrase without any merit. a caring touch carries a lot of potential.

personally, i like hugs and i enjoy giving them as much as receiving them. reminded me of something I've observed this past Sunday... we went to a Christian concert, but since the music there is not your traditional praise & worship, guys there did not look like your traditional Christian nice guys. if i would see them on the street at night, i might change the side of the street, 'cuz i'd be afraid of them... but since i knew they were here because of the concert, i wasn't afraid. and let me tell you, it was amazing to see all those guys greet each other (and everyone else) with a hug and a genuine warm smile. awesome.

(hehe, i am getting into long comments...)

david said...

i don't think our traditional phrase "kiss it better" is just a phrase without any merit. a caring touch carries a lot of potential.

Interesting. Is that in your culture as well. I forget, but it seems I remember your Mother doing that for you a few times.

Zee said...

you mean, "kiss it better" thing? sometimes. mom wanted to do that, but i was an independent kid (you remember me back then)... and it is in the culture.

Jamie H Davis said...

I am a huggy/touchy person. I sometimes find myself stifling this instinct in certain situations - just in case it would offend the other person. I always feel bad after having done this (stifling myself), but the "F" in my INFP personality rating makes me always worry about what the other person is feeling, thinking, etc. I am always glad when the other person isn't afraid to hug me, because I welcome it! I love it! :)

I was raised in a very physically affectionate family and I am so thankful for that!


michellebradford said...

I found your blog via Mark Gilroy.

I agree wholeheartedly! Since I am a people person and a book worm all in one package, it is difficult for me not to touch - people or books. In fact, you will never see me embracing a kindle.

One of the romantic images that comes to mind is watching my husband coach. He pats shoulders, the top of the player's head and sometimes puts his hands gently on each side of the players face and speaks softly. He is a lovely dream!

Even Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me."

Have a blessed day, you and yours!

Zee said...

to Jamie: wow, our Myers-Briggs types are close. i'm INFJ (which TOTALLY describes me).

to Michelle: heh, you mentioned Kindle... i am actually looking at possibly getting myself one. while i don't appreciate the technology replacing books (ahh, the smell of the newly printed ink and the feel of turning pages...), living in Ukraine and having a love for English-language books don't go together well. usually i either ask my friends to bring me some reading material every time someone goes to US or i search all around Kiev for books in English (which usually ends up depressing me 'cuz often i can't find a book that i want)... so Kindle's a solution for me. i think...

52 Days In The Garden said...

To Zee-

I see your point. Words are traveling faster than the speed of light these days. I also appreciate the ability to communicate with friends from around the world. The handy little translate button on blogs are nothing short of a miracle.

Hope all is well in your beautiful land and may joy and love and Jesus be your wellspring!


david said...

Zee and Jamie; ENFP here, but the E is a very borderline one. Interesting.

Michelle, I think I remember seeing you at the writer's conference in Indy (Wesleyan HQ).

Thanks everyone for your comments on this. I've had text messages, facebook messages and a telephone call about this post. Must be some sort of hot-button. Is for me.

52 Days In The Garden said...

How amazing! We did meet at the Wesleyan Writer's Conference.

Congrats on "Runaway Pastor."

Blessings, joy and prosperity to you and yours,


Jamie H Davis said...

Hey, Zee - Howdy to my new friend! :) I used to be an INFJ (when I was around 20 years old), but I changed in later years to an INFP (when I was around 30, I think). My "J" and "P" are very borderline. Get this, though.... I am 100% "F." It has been an odd journey, career-wise, for me because I am a mechanical engineer. From my experience, most engineers have a strong "T."

Dave - yes, interesting. :)


Jamie H Davis said...

Hey michellebradford: Your description of your hubby was breathtaking. "He is a lovely dream." I love that! So sweet. :)


Zee said...

Michelle - thank you. my country is certainly going through tough times right now (politically, economically, and financially), but it's not the end of the world (if it were, i'd gladly enjoy that too, however). i hope and pray that God's got something interesting for Ukraine up His sleeve. it's frustrating to watch everything going in a circle, but i have faith (well, struggling to have one) that it will turn out good.

David - ENFP, eh? that describes you well, i think. "a people person". you say that E is borderline - are you an introvert sometimes, then?

Jamie - well, considering that i just turned 23, i guess i might as well turn into an INFP later. but right now, the description i have found at typelogic website is me in such details that i used to think made me a misfit - "INFJs are deeply concerned about their relations with individuals as well as the state of humanity at large. They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people -- a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. On the contrary, INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or obvious "soul mates." While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates. This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for them, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which they are so susceptible as inherent "givers." As a pattern of behavior, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character to outsiders, and hence the most often misunderstood -- particularly by those who have little experience with this rare type."