Jan
19

Are We Too Touchy on Touch?

It was the worst day in my life. Our daughter Anastasia was two-years-old. We were living in Germany in a townhome, three-stories high with winding, marble stairs. Anastasia, like most two-year-olds, was my shadow and followed me continually up and down the stairs.

I worked busily that morning, getting ready for an overnight guest. The drain to the shower was clogged so I used a spoon to pour with some Draino crystals directly into the pipes. A small amount of the crystals mixed with some water and stuck to the spoon.

I placed the spoon up on a shelf and within seconds I heard an explosive scream from Anastasia. I turned to see her holding the spoon and crying in great pain. I quickly began rinsing out her mouth but she was already swelling.

At the hospital she was put in the pediatric intensive care ward. We were blessed that the majority of the burns were in her mouth but her saliva had carried enough of the chemicals down her esophagus and the doctors needed to see the extent of the damage.

They performed an endoscopy on her, placing a tube with a light and camera down her throat to allow them to see if her burns would require surgery. So, Mark and I waited and prayed.

After a while a nurse hurried to get me. Anastasia was in recovery but was having a reaction to the anesthesia. The tubes attached to her body scared her and she was flailing and screaming. The nurses feared her cries would further damage her burns and cause permanent scarring.

Immediately I went to her side and tried to calm her down. But she couldn’t hear me – she was in a panic zone. I looked at the cords around her and wasn’t sure if I could move her. I asked the nurses if I could try holding her. They worked to loosen and remove cords to help me.

I scooped her up and she nuzzled into me. She recognized my touch and could then hear my voice. She knew her mommy was with her.

Pete Wilson tells us that God’s most frequently stated promise in the Bible is, “I Am with you.” Knowing I’m not alone brings me peace but sometimes it’s hard to feel the touch of an invisible God.

When you compare our culture to the rest of the world, Americans are some of the touchiest about touch. I understand we need to be careful and teach our kids about inappropriate touch. It’s wise to be cautious at times in order to avoid a false accusation or putting yourself in a bad situation. Unfortunately, I’m too aware of the damage inappropriate touch can do and I’m very sympathetic to it.

At the same time, part of me wonders if God would like to use our arms to help others hear His voice?

My cuddles didn’t remove Anastasia’s pain or take her out of the hospital – she still had to endure her situation. But my touch calmed her enough so she was able to hear my voice and see that I was with her, the same way God is with us during our hardships.

Now I’m not saying to go and hug the next person you run into or to pat the lonely sole in the locker room on the back, but listen to the nudges God gives you.

It was awkward for me to ask the nurses to help remove the cords so I could hold Anastasia but that was the direction I felt and it worked. It may not always feel natural but it’s amazing what God can do through our touch.

What are your thoughts on how our culture handles touch?

Has God ever touched you with His power through the loving arms of another?

Comments

  1. What a great post.

    I’ve never thought about what a difference a touch can make. I guess one reason it is so important is because you have to stop whatever you are doing to touch someone else.

    So it focuses on the person’s pain or problem to actually stop, zero in on them and them give a comforting touch.

    • Laurie Russell says:

      Hi Paula!

      You’re so right. Many times my kids try to talk to me but I’m in the middle of something, like cooking dinner, and I’m only half listening to them. But when I stop and give them a hug or cuddle with them on the couch while they talk to me, they are getting 100% of me. I can tell it makes a big difference to them when I do that too.

      I’m sure there are days that I touch my phone, computer and other gadgets more than my kiddos. Pretty sad, eh?

      Thanks for your wise words and for sharing!

      Laurie

  2. Great writing my friend. Thanks for making me think.
    I have always been one to reach out to people but not always through touch or conversation. As I’ve gotten older or matured (especially in the last year) I have used human touch in the form of a hug or a pat on the shoulder more. (This may also be in part that my babies are growing up and they do not hang on me like they use to.) I feel that this is one of the ways that God is using me to connect with others.
    I get the inappropiate touch thing…but a warm hug is not in the same category.

    • Laurie Russell says:

      Aw…thanks for sharing this Tish (you just gave me a cyber-hug! ha Okay – sorry for the corny joke). This is great insight. I haven’t thought about the age of our kids and how that affects our need for touch. Maybe that’s why I crave it more. Anastasia is still a cuddler but Noah has reached the age when he prefers a pat on the back over a hug (especially when friends are around). I miss those days when he’d run and hug me after school. However, when we lived in Chile – some of our friends had college-aged kids who still sat in their parents laps and cuddled – both the two daughters AND the son!

      You’re so right about a hug and inappropriate touch not being the same. Maybe some of the horrific stories out there have given us stage fright when it comes to hugs and pats on the back and we’ve thrown it all out with the bath water.

      I think our screen time has caused us to lose the art of interacting in person too.

      Oh well…go give Randy a hug! ha

      Thanks for sharing this my friend!!

      Laurie

  3. I think about this subject often. I am a Sicilian woman who loves to hug and use touch to show my friends how much I care. But I also know that these impulses can be taken negatively, that people might feel uncomfortable with my affection. It is a fine line and I find that I am constantly reminding myself to tread lightly.

    • Laurie Russell says:

      Oh Banana! One of the things I love about you is that you give REAL hugs – the kind that heal. 😉 You do bring up a good point about how they (not yours, but hugs in general) can be taken wrong.

      Do you think it’s a cross-gender thing or just that many N. Americans are not raised in “touchy” homes?

      When we lived in Chile, everyone greeted each other with a kiss on the cheek (friends and strangers). It was very awkward for me at first but after being in the country for a while, it became second nature. When I returned back to the States, I had to retrain myself NOT to kiss people when I met them. Talk about making some people feel uncomfortable! ha

      I love your Sicilian ways! Please don’t change!!!! 🙂

      Laurie

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