Contemplative Hug

I am going to talk, in this post, of something very personal to me. Perhaps it is a bit overly open, but I feel the need to share this with the world. It is the plans for this post itself that helped inspire me to start a blog now rather than later.

One of my great struggles has involved the theory of love languages. We express and receive love in different ways. My primary love language is that of physical touch. Now this can create problems for a single person. What’s more, I have been single for most of my life, rarely in relationships, so for the vast majority of my adult life, there has been no one from whom I receive the physical affection I so need. I have known of this unfulfilled need since my teens, but for the longest time I didn’t know what to do about it. When I was nineteen, I asked friends to hug me for a long time, but frankly, that’s just awkward and inappropriate.

I gave up on that and went without the need being fulfilled for years. I suffered. Love is a truly physical need. There was, some time ago, a study of an orphanage in which the babies were fed, but not held or loved in any way. They all died. Without love, any human will die, and for me, love is best expressed physically. Now I also can receive love through words. This has kept me alive and more or less well, but the lack of touch can be painful, sometimes even physically painful from the stress.

Some years ago, I started swing dancing, and the friends I met there always hugged each other, including me. I noticed that even the occasional hug will go a long way toward healing the pain from lacking physical touch. Shortly before that, I joined a church in which people didn’t so much hug each other all the time, but they patted each other on the back and things like that. This, also, was healing.

Of course, with such a deep need for physical touch, the occasional hug or pat on the back isn’t enough. It helps; it greatly reduces the pain, but it’s not enough.

This is where I discovered the final satisfaction for this need. Meditation and prayer. The combination of these can be found in a type of Contemplative Prayer. Now I must admit that I am a novice in contemplative prayer. I suppose everyone is, but I will share what I have learned through experience.

I do not know quite how I discovered this type of prayer, but I remember that I taught myself to imagine a vague image of God on His throne and I with him. I would be face down on the floor before his throne, but His presence would love me. Just being with Him was enough. We didn’t say anything to each other aside from the occasional word or two from myself. The Holy Spirit does communicate with me at times, as He communicates with all Christians, but generally in this practice He is silent. At least He doesn’t talk with words. He heals me by the strength and love of His glorious presence. At times, I feel an actual physical healing of my heart (which is odd, given that the organ of the heart does not actually manage the emotions). A couple times, I felt the healing presence in my mind.

I wish I could better instruct in how to find this contemplative prayer, but all I know is that I focused my mind  and soul (mostly my soul) on God’s presence and sat there and drank it up. More eloquent people or perhaps more experienced people have written books on the matter, which are definitely worth the read. I enjoyed Thomas Merton’s book “Contemplative Prayer”. I did find, however, that it was too deep to read all at once, and so I never did finish it. It is the sort of book to read quite slowly and stick with it, but I get distracted when I read through a small book throughout too many days. I put the most important aspect in Italics, and I suggest that those interested start there.

Now contemplative prayer is all well and good, but I learned its connection to healing prayer. Both are deep prayers, which require much focus. I am not as skilled in healing prayer as many others, but I will say that I use it on myself fairly frequently. It seems to come forth through contemplative prayer, but an expert on prayer may disagree with that, finding a better explanation.

In any case, I use my method to heal different aspects of my pain, and recently have used it to heal my pain from lack of physical touch. One thing I had done for a long time, ever since being a teenager, was fantasize about holding someone or being held by someone. I felt that this should help with my need for touch. What I discovered is that it only makes the gap of not being touched worse than it was in the first place. I suspect the reason for this is that such fantasies are lust, and lust cures nothing. Interestingly enough, when I asked God to hold me in His way to heal me of my pain, I could picture myself as a little boy sitting in His lap, He on His throne holding me as a parent would hold his little child. This was healing. Now that may seem odd. Me imagining being held by some woman empties me, but me imagining being held by God as a little boy fills me in a deeper, more profound way, than actually being with a woman ever has, in the few times I was in a relationship.

The thing is, it’s real. God really does basically hug me in those times. He holds me and satisfies this physical need through Spirituality. Being physical with a woman I’m not married to isn’t going to help with much because it’s not really a good thing. It’s still lust. But being close with God in that way of a little child with his parent helps everything. God is our parent among other roles.

When I struggle with my needs not being met in this world, I turn to heal them spiritually. This brings up another topic, which I hope to explore later, though I’m not sure when. That topic is the relationship between the spiritual and the physical. I think I have begun to understand it a bit, but this is all for later.

What are your thoughts on this? How does God meet your needs? How do you experience meditation and what are your practices? Has anyone had similar experiences to mine, or are they different?

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