I was standing at my son’s basketball practice when my friend Ashley walked over and gave me a big giant hug. I was caught off guard, unprepared to be momentarily wrapped in someone’s arms.
She held on.
It was probably a minute, but it felt like five. I laughed an awkward laugh when I noticed that she wasn’t letting go.
Then the strangest thing happened.
My laughter gave way to comfort, right about the time she let go. I said out loud, Wow, that felt good. It was awkward for everyone, so we hugged again. Only this time, I held her back. Then we both cracked up laughing. She said, I can’t help it. I’m a hugger. I instantly welled with emotion and had to fight back the tears.
I’ve thought a lot about that day.
I’ve thought about how much I needed that hug. I needed to be caught off guard and allow myself to be held. I would have never asked for it. I would have never initiated it, but I needed it.
I try to do and be a lot of things in this life. I waste a lot of energy trying to be strong. I hold it all together when I really just want to fall apart. I take deep breaths when I really want to scream and shout (and throw something). I stay up late to finish laundry when I really just want to dive into bed.
I’m guessing you might know how I feel.
What Ashley did that day, caught me when I wasn’t prepared, when I wasn’t bracing to be strong.
What she really did was show up as love with hands and arms.
Love isn’t concerned with you being ready. It isn’t concerned with everything being comfortable. It doesn’t wait for you to say you need it.
Love just shows up and holds on tight. It doesn’t let go. It doesn’t wait for comfortable.
We learned as little girls to get through awkward moments as quickly and cleanly as possible. To avoid the uncomfortable. We’re all grown up now. We know better, but we still run from awkward.
Sometimes the things that matter most are the hard things. The uncomfortable, the awkward.
I see love in a hug from a friend.
I see love in a note to a teacher for no other reason than to show appreciation. I see love in a blog that needs to be written. I see love in a co-worker asked to lunch. I certainly see love in an e-mail, a text, or a phone call that is long overdue.
I see love in Gracie Moakler, employing women out of addiction at Miriam Designs, to create cool jewelry. I see love in Agata Scott at Mitscoots, employing the homeless in Austin to create darling socks and then pass out free ones to their friends, one for one. I see it in Lindsey Parry at 4love giving hope and purpose to indigenous women creating unique fashionable dresses. I see it in Molly Hayward at CoraWomen, because she cared enough to create a way for girls to go to school without shame during their worst time of the month, by creating a product that’s good for us too. I can’t wait for you to meet these women.
Love shows up whenever one person sees the humanity in another and gives generously of themselves to make their life better.
So whether you’re a hugger, a social entrepreneur, a winker, a waver, a smiler, a writer, a mom, a wife, an artist, or a student, do it today with flare. Own it and lean in to it, even if it’s hard to do. Even if it feels uncomfortable or a little awkward.
Especially if it feels a little awkward.
You never know who needs you most today. She’s probably not wearing a sign. She’s probably not going to say a thing about it. Be brave.
Hug her anyway.
Make a connection. Make a difference.
Because you can.
And because we need you to.
To more love! (and more hugs)