Guest Post: Healing Touch

I’m back and thankful for another opportunity to guest-write for FastPray. Having just come through the marketing day for love, I’ve gotten a fresh reminder of my single status, so I’m armed and ready to discuss.

Two years ago, I took a journey with my laptop to an Italian Villa nestled in the trees of south central Pennsylvania (not exactly where you were expecting, right?) to do some writing about singleness. During my stay, the gracious host invited me to have afternoon tea with her so we could discuss my writing. As we sat in the grand salon having tea, I was nearly brought to tears by one question she launched, with little warning. I was shocked by my response because it wasn’t an insensitive question, and I tried desperately to pull it together. After all, afternoon tea is not the place for water works.

I don’t even remember the direction of the conversation at the time, or the exact wording of the question she posed, but I do remember how it uncovered a tender place in my heart I didn’t even realize existed. In that moment I suddenly felt exposed, weak, and without an answer. Not exactly the warm fuzzy feeling you want from afternoon tea. The Brits certainly would not approve of such emotional displays during tea.

So are you ready for the question that cut me to the quick? I don’t even know most of you, and this isn’t the sort of thing that you just blurt out in conversation with people you hardly know and it may seem a little awkward at first, but I believe it’s something that should be talked about more.

Ok, so the question went something like…

“Who touches you?”

Before you think this perverse, let me explain. She was referring to pats on the back of camaraderie, the touches to the arm for affirmation, an embrace to make you feel accepted, or a hand on the shoulder that says “you are not alone.” The touch of another human being that says you are loved for being you.

Not being a huggy, feely type of person, I never really thought about the fact that I could go weeks without touching someone else. I mean it’s not like you want to go around the office hugging people to fill your touch quota for the week, that’s just weird.

So as I sat there with my china cup in hand, fighting back tears, I was shocked at the realization of my deficient touch quota and embarrassed by the need that she exposed. I’ve heard stories of babies in orphanages that go without the touch of a caretaker and the devastating effects the lack of touch has on their development, but I never made the association beyond infancy.

I just did a word search in my bible app for “touch,” do you know how many times Jesus healed people by touching them? A lot. Imagine being one of the societal outcasts with leprosy or the woman with the blood issue, where no one was allowed to touch them, and Jesus comes along and lays a finger on them. He touched them, actually touched them, what a healing!

So here we are in the wake of red-heart mayhem, and I ask you: “who touches you?”

If you find yourself in the deficient category, I suggest you do something about it. Volunteer in the church nursery or retirement home. Baby-sit your nieces and nephews more—they are fantastic hug-givers. One day my three-year-old nephew attacked me in a parking lot with goodbye kisses all over my face. My brother was quick to point out it was the most action I had gotten in years (yeah, he’s special), and while true, kisses from the little people in my life mean the world to me.

It is my hope and prayer for you to reflect on your own life, but also be aware of how you can impact the lives of others through a simple hug or pat on the shoulder.

Forever growing,

Michelle is a guest contributor. She currently writes for Doing Life Single, a blog to discuss the practical side of living single. From cooking to vacationing, being single presents both opportunities and challenges. To join the discussion,

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15 Responses to Guest Post: Healing Touch

  1. AnnaB says:

    I remember a hair-stylist friend telling me that she saw her job as a ministry as well–many of her regular clients were older men and women who came in to have their hair cut or styled, and she said for some of them, that might be only time they were getting touched all week/month! I think your idea of volunteering at a retirement center or the like is very good, in part because those people really need touch and affirmation as well. Thanks for this post!

  2. Anita says:

    I can so identify, being single at 38 and touch being a dominate love language. Thanks for your honesty here and helping me feel not so alone. It also reminds me of how my pastor’s wife is my life-saver on many levels, because she’s generous with her hugs.

  3. Michelle says:

    Hey everyone,
    When I sat down to write this I was not intending to go this direction, so I’m glad to read that this resonated with some of you. Of course, there is a danger of throwing this out into the cyber world and letting people know that you are touch deficient, my mom is hugging me every time I see her now (she even grabbed my sister). I just hope this doesn’t get out of control:-).

  4. Lyn says:

    Part of the problem stems from the fact that we all, whether we’re outgoing or not, live increasingly isolated. We go to jobs, sit chained at the desk for x amount, then go home and surf the net or watch TV. Rinse and repeat. Church going can follow the same pattern. My friends and family and I have talked about this, it seems more of us are alone and this appears to be a widespread problem. Sometimes, it’s hard to fix this on our end, because the system itself is against us in how it is structured and how we get along just to survive. God Bless you all, and remember, it won’t be like this forever! We have much better things to look forward to, even if things here are a huge disappointment.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Praise God for that! I also feel like I need to get out of my own shell and be unafraid to hug people at church. My place of worship is very big on handshakes… sometimes… that just doesn’t cut it. –Anna

  5. RLynn says:

    Glad to see this on fast.pray–“skin hunger” is something that singles definitely experience more than others.

    • fast. pray. says:

      I like that phrase “skin hunger.” I wonder if singles in American culture experience it more often than in other cultures where touch is much more common in greetings and daily interactions. –Anna

      • suzanne loucky says:

        depends on the culture. Some northern & central Europeans, Japanese, and others are less apt to express physical affection than in the US. But it’s important to find some place where you have this type of affirmation, and kindred spiritual friendships.

  6. Leslie says:

    I totally get this! I almost always melt when someone gives me a hug (I live 2000 miles away from family so I get even fewer hugs). Someone was talking about the 5 Love Languages on their blog and when I read it on Friday I realized that I was completely deficit in all of them (I realize that generally one is your love language but most people still get exposure to the others on a regular basis). I couldn’t remember the last time I had heard words of affirmation; etc…. So yeah… I sat at my desk and just cried for 10 minutes.

  7. Beth says:

    Michelle, thank you for your honest sharing. I can empathize with your ‘deficiency’. As an ISTJ, I’m not someone who expresses my emotions well, let alone touch others. But I have realised the difference that it makes and I’m learning to grow out of my shell. I can feel an anxiety pang emerging from my loneliness this week and I guess what I need to do is to reach out and touch others (literally and figuratively) and allow myself to be touched.

    p.s. I love your signature ‘forever growing’. I feel the same way too!

  8. SCF says:

    This is a fantastic post, and one that we, as single women (men, too!) don’t always think about. A friend of mine recommended massages to me once, saying that it was important for single people to enjoy physical touch. I’m not really a massage-type, but I do enjoy getting a manicure every now and then for the same reason: physical touch.

    Thanks for “touching” on an important topic!

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