Embrace is a powerful word. It’s more than a hug. It’s more than a greeting.
It creates an image. It prompts action. It evokes deep emotions.
Webster’s definition confirms it:
- To clasp or hold close with the arms, usually as an expression of affection
- To surround; enclose
- To twine around
Now add the “-ed” to the word.
I don’t know about you…but the idea of me embracing someone is easier to stomach than the idea of being embraced. It’s personal.
Being embraced requires me to open up.
Being embraced makes me feel vulnerable.
Being embraced takes control away from me.
But then…after my own hesitancy subsides…I realize that…
Being embraced gives me safety.
Being embraced connects my soul to another.
Being embraced tangibly radiates another’s love for me.
An embrace speaks louder than any words…being embraced generates a comfort and peace unlike any other action.
It all sounds simple. Maybe it even sounds fluffy. But it’s one of the simplest and most profound realizations I’ve had. And that realization has turned the past 18 months of my life upside-down. Or maybe, it’s more accurate to say it’s a concept that has turned my life right-side-up.
For the first time in my life, I feel lovable…because I’ve finally allowed myself to be embraced. Embraced by myself…embraced by others…embraced by God.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t loved. I knew I was. But knowing you’re loved is nothing compared to allowing yourself to feel love.
Sometimes it’s awkward. Sometimes it’s clunky. Sometimes it’s scary.
But it will change your life.
Finding acceptance in embracing me.
Finally. I can love me. I’m not standing in front of a mirror ranking my performance. I’ve got my own voice, my own dance, my own moves. It’s interesting when I think about Jesus telling me in the New Testament to love others “as we love ourselves.” I certainly don’t believe he was telling me to hate others as much as I hate myself…yet all too often, that’s what I do. I think we all do. We are our own biggest haters. I’m too fat. I’m not smart enough. My opinion doesn’t matter. How can we possibly love others when we can’t even love ourselves and respect our uniqueness?
In Psalm 139:14 in the Voice translation, it says that we are filled with wonder and awe (other translations say we are fearfully and wonderfully made). I love what the phrase from the Voice suggests…filled with wonder and awe. According to whom? According to God! I imagine Him staring at me in wonder and awe. If God can look at me that way, then certainly I can. And once I can look at myself that way, I can see others that way, too.
Finding trust, encouragement and solace in embraces from others.
I always assumed that I loved people more than they could possibly love me. Not because I love bigger than anyone else, but because I couldn’t see the lovable stuff in myself. I needed to see the lovable in me in order to realize that I am, indeed, loved as much as (if not more than) I can possibly love. It’s logic, really…if God IS love, and His spirit dwells within those who believe in Him, then they emit love. God loves me through other people. I have no doubt. But I could never feel it until I let myself feel it…until I realized I could trust them to love me despite my flaws and quirks…until I would allow myself to actually HEAR their encouragement and direction.
After all, I Corinthians 13:1-3 makes it clear that the foundation of everything is LOVE. Those around me are merely living according the way Jesus asked us to live. How is rejecting their love for me respectful and loving to them? Allowing myself to be loved by others shows them I love them back. When I can trust that someone loves me, no matter what, I feel deep peace and comfort.
Finding meaning, purpose and hope in my embrace from God.
I really never had a problem understanding that God loves me. But I know I never let myself feel His love. When I think about it, I can’t feel love from people when I’m busy running around trying to please them. That’s how it was for God and me. I tried to create my own meaning and my own purpose…and believe me…that was hopeless. It always left me wanting more. And it allowed me to hide the places I didn’t want to go with Him.
When I finally understood the power of grace, and realized that there is NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1, New Living Translation), I realized I had nothing to worry about! Was I at risk of Him not accepting me? Nope. He doesn’t care what I do or don’t do to please Him. He wants me to FEEL His love so that it overflows out of me and into the lives of others. The same way he uses the people in my life. Allowing myself to be embraced by God gives me hope that there is meaning and purpose to my unique self, who is filled with wonder and awe and loved by others.
You see, I realized that I can’t embrace others with a love that’s true without allowing myself to be embraced…without understanding what it feels like to be embraced… without understanding how being embraced changes the direction of a moment, a day, a season, a year and, yes, even a lifetime.
Open up. Be vulnerable. Lose control.
Allow yourself to be embraced.
And then watch your life transform.
(Thanks to the special people who understood the power of the word “embrace” and put it to work in the lives of others…including me. You know who you are.)