Massage in Frankfurt, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Several months ago, I noticed a sharp pain when trying to lift my left arm. The pain was down my arm and not in my shoulder – and hard to explain. It only hurt when trying to put my arm above my head – and so my obvious conclusion to this irritating and painful problem was not to do that. Ever. I found another way to get undressed and remove clothing attached and around my arms with my arm in a down position – I’m pretty creative like that 🙂
I told my massage therapist and she smiled and said knowingly, “this just happens as we get older”. Great. That’s what I was afraid of. And because of my repetitious movement at the computer and playing piano for a few hours each day – the problem has increased in recent years. That day and every time since, she has worked on that arm and attached ligaments and helped me to get increased mobility. The pain was only so-so – UNTIL the last time I was in to see her. By this time I noticed that I had the same pesky pain in BOTH arms when trying to raise them above my head. She worked on one side and it honestly took my breath away it hurt SO BAD.
She suggested some stretches and a heating pad to loosen up the locked up area – and Greg decided to get in on the action by “suggesting” some stretches. He has me get down on the floor flat on my back and raise my arms above my head. It sounds so easy – anyone should be able to do it, right? But for me – it’s very difficult. Because I’m a good sport (and to humor him) I am trying this – lifting my arms as far as I can and letting gravity pull them down on my floor. It is very hard NOT to arch my lower back – but I am at least trying. Not an easy task while our puppy is all excited that we’re down on the floor with her – she thinks we’re down there to play with her and keeps jumping on my sore arms – OUCH!
And although these stretches, plus the other ones suggested to me are good for me – I do not like them. I’m not a fan of pain, physical, emotion or any other kind. But I have come to terms with pain – have made friends with it and am trying to let it teach me the lesson that it needs to. Pain will have its way – teach its lesson and hopefully move on. At least in other aspects of my life – this has been the case.
Ah – pain! The great teacher. That moment making us change and do something different. Making us take great efforts to avoid, get fixed up and obliterate forever.
Like those awful stretches. I will do them because I do not like the alternative.
How about you? Do you have some painful stretches in your life? Are they worth it? Is it better than the alternative?
Last night I watched a movie about a terminally ill man. The man was in his forties – was divorced and had a 16-year-old rebellious son. In one scene he collapses and ends up in the hospital – talking with a young nurse on night duty about his regrets and his life. He tells her about his son – his painful divorce and no one to love him. She asks him what he would do if he knew he only had 4 months to live and he tells her, “I’d build a house” She feels compassion for him and reaches out to touch him. He pulls back and tells her that he’s uncomfortable with touch – because no one has touched him in a long time – in fact he couldn’t remember the last time someone in his life had done that. A look of understanding comes across her face and she quietly closed the curtain that surrounded his bed and then sits down next to him and touches him. She lovingly strokes his head with her soft hands and lets him feel her warmth as she placed both her hands on his face – on his cheeks. It was one of the most moving scenes I have ever seen in a movie – there was no sound from either of them – just simple, tender human touch.
I have known people like this in my life. People who desperately needed to be loved and touched. Those that for their own reasons – shrink back from people touching them – even though they really need it. I can only imagine that they are ‘prickly’ and pull away because of fear – fear of rejection or of being hurt – or maybe because of a bad experience – an abusive parent or harsh teacher – an angry boyfriend or girlfriend – or maybe even a physically abusive spouse. I even knew one male friend that barely escaped with his own life from an abusive and mentally disturbed spouse. These events and more can make people feel ‘unloved’ and cause them to pull away from touch and love from those around them. A hug might be no big deal to you and me – after all I give them everyday – to my husband and kids – my friends and students – but I always know the ones that have a hard time accepting my touch – my love – any physical form of connection – such as a hug or simple squeeze around the shoulders – or on the hand. And yet – I know it is very important that they feel it. And it is very important that I touch them – anyway.
Jesus touched people. The unlovely. The sick and diseased. The ones that others would turn away from. He reached out – and touched them. And in that simple act of intimacy – people were healed – both emotionally and physically. Jesus healed people from the inside out. His touch was like a healing balm of oil poured on their heads and it released something sick and dying inside – all with a touch.
There is power in touch today. Ever have a good massage? That touch is healing and releases something tight and pent-up inside your muscles. If done right – and deep enough into the tissue people have actually been known to cry – something is released and even deep memories of past can be brought out. It is not unusual to have people become emotional during a massage – because sometimes it is just what that person needs. The loving touch of someone. Gently stroking those tired and sore muscles – going deep into the stress and fatigue of everyday living – of regret and heartache. Bringing relief – bringing joy and release.
How much more important is it to touch those we love? How important is a hug, a caress, a kiss? It is HUGE. We need to touch our kids – hug them lots and make sure we express something through our gently, loving and much-needed embrace.
The human touch. The healing embrace. The caress that says much more than mere words can. The silent love language of touch. It is still needed as we grow and mature into adulthood. Sometimes more so if you didn’t have it much as a child – or if you’ve been through something traumatic and painful. The touch that says, “I see you. I care. You are valuable to me”
Don’t be afraid to reach out and touch someone. It may be the only thing that someone understands. It may be the only thing that someone is missing in their life. You may be the only link they have to forming an opinion about a loving God. Your touch and reaching out to them – may be the one thing that makes them want to know more about God and his loving embrace. So hug them. Your touch may be the only Jesus they can understand.