Saturday morning at MOPS Convention. I woke up a bit tired because several of us from our group decided to spend much of the night roaming and exploring the massive and awesomely beautiful Gaylord Opryland. But it’s all good. I don’t go to Convention for sleep, but for God time and girlfriend time. So, after a quick shower, devotions with several of the ladies in our group, and a $5 latte, it was time for the morning General Session. Good times!
I was really looking forward to worship with Travis Cottrell. I was really enjoying him leading worship. To me, it was on par with Matt Redman from Convention 2009. Let me just say one reason I love going to convention is the music. It never disappoints. And it is so awesome to worship with your friends and thousands of other women who desire to be closer to God. And as Coordinator of our MOPS steering team, there is almost a parental-type of pride (the good pride, not the bad kind) seeing your girls all together worshiping and loving God. It’s heart-warming and as I watched our girls that morning I thanked God for these women who are serving our ministry and the moms in our group.
But, for all the strides I felt I had taken this weekend to get right with God, in the midst of this morning, I started to feel that empty feeling again. And I started praying and talking to God asking what more He was wanting me to learn. And I touched on this earlier in this story, but I have had such a hard time with letting people touch me and get close to me, and I already knew God was working on me regarding that. But as I stood there listening to the music and trying to participate in corporate worship, I couldn’t. I felt alone – in a room of close to 3000 women – I felt alone.
And I needed a hug. And my husband wasn’t there and my mom wasn’t there, and I just asked God for a hug. And then I begged God for a hug, and I just felt that if somehow I could just feel someone’s arms around me, letting me know that they cared, I would feel better. So, I stood there, silently petitioning God for a hug, so very odd coming from me, but I did.
And before the song was even over, Melissa tapped me on my arm. She had been worshiping – hands raised, eyes closed – but stopped and tapped me on the arm and said, “I feel like I need to give you a hug.” WHAT? And then she said, “I know you don’t really like that, so consider this a mental hug.” And I almost didn’t say anything, but then quietly said back to her, “No, that’s fine. I really could use a hug.” So, she gave me the classic Christian Side Hug. And immediately I felt lighter, like some burdens were lifted from my shoulders and taken away.
Melissa went back to worshiping and I just sat down, bowed my head and prayed. I thanked God for such a unique answer to prayer, for His love, for the blessings in my life – including these awesome women that surrounded me – literally at the moment but figuratively as we do life and ministry together. And quietly, I started crying tears of joy and reconciliation.
One of my other friends there, Saralyn, gently just rubbed my shoulder as I think she could tell I was emotional at that moment. And I didn’t mind.The fact someone was touching me was okay, and I told God that I wouldn’t stop others from reaching out to me in that fashion anymore. It’s okay to let people into my life, and I don’t need to keep them at arms length. Bold. Loving. Sensible. I need to be bold to let people into my life and let them see the REAL me. And I need to be loving and let others love me as they know how – and if that’s a hug so be it. And it took a long time to learn that, but it all seems rather Sensible to be able to recognize that. Bold. Loving. Sensible.
It was the most awesome God moment in my life. A direct and immediate answer to my prayer – you know, prayer – that I had so many issues with. God gave me an immediate answer.
But, in the words of the legendary Paul Harvey, here’s the rest of the story.
After the General Session was over, I nudged Melissa and thanked her for the hug and told her I really needed it and had at that moment been begging God for a hug. And she looked at me and said she wasn’t going to tell me because she thought I would think this odd, but she explained her side of the hug to me. She was worshiping and not paying any attention to anything else but worship. And she describes what happened next this way. Her arms started burning and with her whole body she had an overwhelming urge to just wrap her arms around me and give me a hug. She knew she couldn’t resist hugging me, but she hesitated because she was quite concerned about how I would respond. So, that’s why she tapped me on the shoulder instead. And she was shocked when I responded that I was okay and really needed a hug.
This moment became a blessing to both of us. I received an answer to my prayer, and she received the blessing of being used directly by God. And there is so much of me that feels that hug wasn’t just from Melissa, but from God himself. It’s like He used her to reach down from Heaven and give me comfort. Her obedience blessed me beyond words. And again, Bold. Loving. Sensible. It took boldness on Melissa’s part to obey, and it was loving, and she was so very sensible in recognizing God’s desire to use her to bless me in such a simple way.
On a more humorous note, I did tell Melissa later that I was glad she was obedient and hugged me because if she had ignored what God wanted her to do, He may have then decided to use the stranger sitting behind me! And as much as I needed a hug, that may have been just a wee bit odd.
UP NEXT: The Final Piece of the Puzzle
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