Hold to Unlock

“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” 1 Timothy 4:4

First of all, I’d like to thank my readers for all the support I received after my last post! After that went live, the topics for potential posts that kept filling my head were darker in nature, and I now have a few half finished pieces on the back burner.  It didn’t feel right to start focusing too much on the negative things, because there has been so many positive things about this crazy journey into Quakerism! So…what positive thing could I write at length about…hmmm….got it!

**Spoiler alert**

This blog is about hugs! And it is dedicated to my friend Kristen. Lets get to it : D

What is ministry? This query has been one that I have frequently revisited during these last two years among Friends.  Fairly quickly, I concluded that ministry is not restricted to people in ties, a specific gender, or to a 30 minute time slot on Sunday. But what is ministry? So much to chew on right there…I don’t have a definition nailed down definition, but I’ve made observations.

Sometimes ministry is volunteering at your child’s school, sometimes it is clearing your schedule to visit a friend in crisis, sometimes it is a smile to a passerby on a street, sometimes it looks like providing childcare on Sunday, sometimes it is being vegan, sometimes it is studying hard and mastering a discipline, sometimes it is a mission trip, sometimes it is making a new friend during recess, sometimes it is not flipping off someone on the road who cuts you off. 

This list/run-on sentence could go on.

So, I’ve seen that ministry takes a lot of different forms, and while it is hard to pull out common threads, I’ve noticed the necessity of each one that I’ve witnessed. Ministry is necessary. Absolutely necessary. To choose not to answer the call of ministry that has been placed upon ones heart, would be a loss for something or someone. 

I often thank people for their ministries, usually I’m not talking about a specific thing that they did or said, rather, I can tell that even when no one else can see them, in the quiet places of their mind, they are faithfully being the person they are called to be.  Their faithfulness has left me affected, and with a precious gift. 

I’ve been trying these last couple of years to learn how to accept compliments better, as I always used to kinda shrug them off or minimize them.  However, one compliment that I don’t have any trouble owning is when people tell me:

“You give really good hugs”

This elicits an enthusiastic thanks from me, and causes my inner dialogue to giggle ecstatically.  In those moments, I am just so happy because it was a compliment that I never thought I would be given. 

Never mind that generally speaking, cisgender men aren’t socialized to be comfortable with too much affectionate touch. What I’m talking about was something deeper…

When I was 13 and realized I was gay, that knowledge entered my mind with an unwelcome passenger.  I thought I had become untouchable. 

I internalized that I was, factually, an abomination.  I was unclean.
Additionally, as deeply in the closet as I was, I was terrified that participating in any level of physical touch with other boys, would instantly reveal my sin to everyone. 

High school, with a few notable exceptions, would compound this problem. 

I noticed, straight friends who would normally greet people with hugs, would subtly not hug me.  This very well could have been subconscious levels of homophobia, but it still hurt to see.  I didn’t feel beautiful or particularly popular, but after I came out there were a couple friends who I remember did hug me.  This felt quite uncomfortable towards the beginning, but their kindness began to chip away at the lie that I believed.

When I was a Freshman at Fox, I quickly noticed a peculiar aspect of Christian Disneyland. Freeking everybody and their brother would hug!  Oh great… welcome to uncomfortable kid’s nightmare!

What it turned out to be though, was a kind of exposure therapy.

Hugs were going to happen, adapt, or be even more uncomfortable for four years. 

In adapting, I decided I would no longer do the types of hugs I’d already mastered.

Quick recoiling hug
Bro hug double back slap (I credit the naming of this phenomenon to my debate partner)
So I tried different things, leaning into people a bit more, actually embracing them.  After awhile, I actually began to enjoy it! These wordless moments felt like a precious second of honesty where I otherwise felt closeted and dishonest.  

I would imagine that my mind could be heard by the other person, and I would say.

“I’m being silent now…so terribly silent, but please understand this act of love.  It is the best I can do right now, but this moment will be sincere.”  

After Common Ground began, and more moments did indeed become sincere, the hugs I shared with CGers became holy things. 

There is a moment that I have identified that takes place during a really good hug, and its kind of like breaking the sound barrier, albeit much quieter.  If you linger during a hug, for a couple extra seconds, the world slows down a bit.  The socially constructed reflex motion stops, the person noticeably softens, and you become as close two minds can become, if only for a moment, one precious moment.

I can hear a heart that isn’t my own beating, and the rest just melts away. I trust that in those moments I can communicate in a hug what I often fail to communicate in words.

I’m sorry

Lets reconcile

You are special to me

I love you

It took me many years to disown my sense of being untouchable, and I see that thing being pushed onto other people constantly through a society that is obsessed with being “flawless”. For however many years remain in my life, I’d like to embrace hugging as a ministry for myself.  

Maybe you, my dear reader, have felt before or are now feeling a bit untouchable.  

In no uncertain terms, I want to say that untouchability is a lie.  Love and touch is your birthright, and I’m so sorry that a cruel world has at the moment stolen it from you.  A fact is true whether people choose to acknowledge it or not. You are beautiful and that is a fact. 

One day, if I ever see you and your ministry, I’d love to give you a hug : )


  1. Wonderful story. Glad to know the art of hugging is not lost..............

    1. Yeppers X ) Its da best.

      thanks for reading!



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