About 15 years ago my brother and I went to a Rick Springfield concert. I can’t believe I just typed that. You have to understand that I was a child of the 80’s and Rick, was well, sort of awesome. He had 17 top 20 hits. He was smooth with the lines and the ladies. So anyway in 2000 or so, long after he was cool, he was in concert to promote a new album that of course no one actually bought.
At any rate there we were at Station Casino and it’s packed (meaning there were like a thousand people there. . . maybe). Rick steps up on stage, and forgets the words to his opening song. Haha. Then he says, “I sort of forgot the words there, but it’s ok. I feel I’m among friends tonight.” The “crowd” roared. From then he was on fire. Flawless as he belted out the tunes as we sang along.
At one point, he starts to sing one of those top 20 hits called The Human Touch. “We all need the human touch. We all need it. . . I need it too”. Then he went out into the crowd and began hugging people and giving high fives. My brother and I died laughing as we watched a 40 year old woman run screaming to a friend, “He touched me! He touched me!.”
I know at this point you are wondering why I’m sharing this story, but I share it because I think we actually do need human touch and as a single person it can be hard to come by.
Touch is a powerful thing. It starts when we are young. As infants we need to be held, rocked, and physically moved. If we don’t get those things our development goes bad in a hurry.
Growing up we test out our strength against our parents, siblings and eventually our friends. Did you know that your family is supposed to be the safe place to test all of that? The family is where you first learn about being touched and touching, what is ok and what isn’t, and about the warmth of embrace that makes you feel safe.
And that is just the first place. We next take it to our peers be it at school or in the athletic contest. We test our strength and begin to find out what our bodies can do. This is all before (or hopefully before) we even get to any sort of “romantic” touch.
It’s of course a whole new ball game when it comes to the opposite sex and our first touch experiences with them. The first embrace, the first kiss, the first. . .
You can see how many ways this can, and often does, get messed up along the way. There are all sorts of good touch and all sorts of bad touch.
As a single person, the older you get, the less places there are for the right kind of touch.
We live in a culture that is more and more individualized and isolated. 50% of America is unmarried. 50% of those people live alone. That’s not a recipe for good touch.
But it gets even tricker as a follower of Jesus because you are of course trying to avoid sexual immorality. So we are told don’t look, and of course don’t touch. In truth, there are a lot of people living in so much fear of bad touch that they don’t have good touch.
But we need it. There’s a new study out for example that says people that sleep in a bed with someone else sleep better and actually live longer. Touch has all sorts of therapeutic benefits, not to mention that it’s one of the five love languages.
Somehow we need to fight for this in the church. Jesus is constantly touching people. Almost always when he heals someone he touches them. How do we do this right?
For starters we need to own it. We need to re-establish good, kingdom touch. We can’t live in fear of bad touch to the point of not offering this kingdom touch. What does it look like? Should we run around touching people? Should we hug every stranger? Should we drop all of our boundaries when dating someone? Should we cuddle with random people? Um, no.
Here are a few thoughts on what we should do (I’m talking here non-romantically – I’ll come back to romantic touch in a different post).
We need to recognize our touch history. Where there has been bad touch in our lives we need to recognize it and seek healing. Where we have been the one initiate wrong touch we need to repent.
We also need to think about our present touch situation. What physical touch is in my life? How do I react to touch? Why?
Finally, we need to learn to both receive and initiate the right touch. I’m talking about the quick hand on the shoulder of the friend you know is hurting. It might be the arm around the crying friend. It’s the hug of a good buddy. The high five with the opposite sex friend. Heck even the fist bump would be a step for some of us.
Our culture offers a lot of the two extremes – inappropriate touch and isolation. Neither of those represent the Kingdom. But we have the chance with how we handle touch to be different, to stand out, to offer the ministry of the right kind of touch.
So, what do you do with the lack of touch? When is a time when the right kind of touch has ministered to you?
Thanks for this post, Justin. You are right. Most of us do not know just how much we need touch for emotional and spiritual health. Virginia Satir, renowned family therapist, said we need 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 a day for maintenance, and 12 a day for growth. My guess is that even most married folks don’t often get up to the “growth” hug stage. Some may be lucky if they get a couple good hugs a week. Sigh. I shared a bit about this in “4 hugs a day for survival? ? ? really?” on seasonedsingleness.com. Mary Haight
I need hugs and I used to believe tht everyone else was that way too but I’ve realised that not everyone else is like that, high fives go a long way as they tend not to cross most people’s boundries and are often encouraging in my eyes.
Great post. I just read the 5 Languages of Love (singles edition). It’s a great book and I think everybody should read it even if you’re in a relationship. I believe it’s my primary love language so this post hits home.
Reblogged this on Heart To Fit.
Not to be a contrarian but I sleep much better alone. I am not as relaxed with someone else in the bed (I’ve been married). I especially don’t like someone close to me. It gives me restless legs. I guess I just need my space. I don’t mind cuddling before sleep but then when it’s time to sleep move over!
Yeah – I’m not talking so much in terms of sleeping. My wife and I went king size bed for all the reasons you are talking about. Haha. I just mean that in general if you get isolated you can go without touch of any kind. Which typically is not good. Also – it’s a little different for a lot of single people who have never been married or even dated.