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  • Writer's pictureJill Jarrell Newsome

It Is Very Hard To Be Both Southern And Socially Distant

I think one of the hardest things about this pandemic is not being able to hug people. I did not realize how much of a hugger I was until I was not supposed to hug someone. I thought back to 25 years ago when someone I knew said the only hug she ever got was at church. I also thought of my uncle who never married and lived alone and he never hugged. He didn't reciprocate when my girls were little and would hug him. I have noticed, recently, when we get to see him, six feet away, he tries to hug us when we arrive and leave. It breaks my heart that I am not supposed to hug him. I wanted to scream, "y'all have no idea what a big deal this is!" A lot of people are having hug withdrawals.

Whether a handshake, a supportive pat on the back, a sympathetic hug or a hand squeeze, they are part of our physical language. Studies show social and emotional touch release oxytocin, boosts the immune system and lowers heart rate. Another study showed we need human touch for decreased violence; greater trust between individuals; economic gain; decreased disease and stronger immune system; stronger team dynamics; more non-sexual emotional intimacy; greater learning engagement and an overall well being. Human touch provides positive thinking, expands trust; reduces social anxiety and stress and it boosts immune system and lowers blood pressure according to Plush Care. A newborn understands touch better than sight or sound. An elderly may lose vision, hearing or balance but they do not lose touch. I think most of us agree this kind of human touch is important.

We have only been in this pandemic for less than a year. Think about the woman in the Bible who had an issue of blood for 12 years. Nothing could be done for her and under the Mosaic law, she could not be around people to to touch anyone because she was considered unclean. After going through this year of feeling isolated and germy (not sure if that is a word) I cannot imagine her despair! She had to be beyond lonely and frustrated! Jesus enters the scene. Luke 6: 17-19, "He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all."

The lady, seeing these people cured, began to have hope. Maybe she could be healed. So sure He could heal her, she joins the crowd, even though that is against the law. She reaches out just to touch Him. This gives me chills. To the crowd she was an unclean woman. And she was in a crowd and touching a man! She was not trying to make a scene or get Jesus' attention. She just needed to touch His garment. Mark 5: 28, "...because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” At that moment she was healed!

She didn't even touch Jesus! Just His garment! There is so much power in reaching out to Jesus! Power and hope! Luke 18: 27, "Jesus replied, 'What is impossible with man is possible with God.'” No matter what we are told about this pandemic, we can reach out to God anytime.

What about touching others? Maybe we do not have to touch them physically. There is much we can do for others during this time. Until we can hug again, we can do things that will touch hearts and bring encouragement without physically touching someone. Ask God to show you how to touch the people around you and show them you care!


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