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Recently a curious new wrinkle introduced itself into the bedtime routine. My youngest son, Sawyer, now 11, mysteriously morphed into a cattle wrangler as he would grab me around the neck every time I raised up after praying and kissing him on the forehead. He held on tight, completely surprising me.

A Bushel and A Peck

I love you a bushel and peck and a hug around the neck

-My Mom singing her favorite song about hugs

I heard that nearly daily when I was little. My mom1 often said it, probably at bedtime most often. She just so happens to be here for a couple weeks, and last night as he was ready for bed, she repeated that familiar phrase. Just a few weeks ago, when Sawyer began his new ritual hug around the neck, I thought of this song. Last night, that song was followed by the same routine. Pray, kiss, and commence hug around the neck. This is the boy whose body language often screams hands off, back up, and “what germs do you have?” The introduction of this long neck hug (often 20 or more seconds with a recommitment to start over if I arose to quickly) provoked my imagination.

Recently, I have been reading (or listening) about attachment, attunement, and affect and have wondered often what is happening in my body. And…how did these connections and/or disconnections get developed in me at a young age (actually beginning on the very day of my birth2). More importantly now, I question whether my body has always betrayed me, or if I betrayed my body. In trying to understand God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, for a long time I tried to disconnect spirit from body, as if they cannot have any relationship (at least in relationship to myself). Even when I realized there is a very human need for this type of connection, I often misheard what my body might be saying or was a bit of an absent caregiver. On my worst days, my own abuser.

Experiencing Hugs

As I look back over the last several years, hugs presented themselves in a variety of settings and forms.

  • Hugs of reintroduction after years of distance
  • Hugs of apology
  • Last hugs before the loss of a friend or family
  • Hugs of enthusiasm
  • Awkward hugs – Not as bad as the bodyshake hug from the movie Just Friends
  • Hugs of appreciation
  • Hugs of consolation
  • Hugs of goodbye

Sawyer’s recent hug endeavor coincides with my own questions of how I carry trauma in my body. Years ago, when I was in the first years of chronic back pain, a close friend said they thought my physical pain intimately connected to my emotional pain. Even today, as I sit over a decade later and ready to head to a Stretch Lab appointment, the tension throughout my spine and ribs is ever present. Today, I noticed it tends to center right around my heart (no, not in the run to the ER type of way). It is like it all emanates from the center of me.

So, as Sawyer is expressing a need for connection and attachment, it keeps me wondering about my own. How does God desire to heal trauma in my body, especially since I think it started on day 1? This passage often feels like my greatest hope and most unreachable goal, but today I am hopeful this type of connection plays out in real time in real life.

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father [a]of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21

  1. This is JoJo, her grandma name, and my Mom. Her and my Dad adopted me at 5 days old. ↩︎
  2. I have big questions about my birth mom and have wondered if she was able to hold me after I was born. ↩︎


  1. Avatar DCabs


    Really enjoyed this post. It is something that I have thought about a lot…how parenting our kids is an opportunity to reparent ourselves. I have seen glimpses of myself in each of my kids and the tenderness that I have for each of my kids invites me to extend that same tenderness and care for the younger me’s. I recently heard someone say that as we age we don’t pass from one age/phase in life but rather become a collection of the various phases of life that we have passed through. Our adolescent self doesn’t replace our elementary school self but just gets added to the mix and our goal is to integrate all of these selves, to celebrate their unique ways in which they each understood and interacted with themselves, the world, and God. The great love and compassion I have for my kids at each stage of their growth and development increases my ability to offer myself the same love and compassion for who and what I was at my various stages of growth and development, warts and all, the good and the bad.
    Thank you for sharing this post. I really enjoyed reading it!

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