The Power of a Healing Hug

You never know when and how God will surprise you.

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A happy woman gets hugs from her friends at a dimly lit restaurant

The storm raged. I turned off the car and leaned back against the seat. The thunder and the pelting rain weren’t enough to silence my thoughts. I was in a dark and empty lot. The only light came from the restaurant sign. I was outside my favorite place, Luby’s, which had just reopened after months of remodeling. It was like a second home, the place where I ate while studying for grad school. A place where I felt like I belonged. They served real comfort food, and the wait staff was friendly—everyone except for Mrs. Franco, who rolled her eyes when I couldn’t decide between the fried okra and the mac ’n’ cheese.

In the light from the Luby’s sign, I studied a photograph. In it, I had scooted my chair close to my husband. I leaned toward him with a beaming smile. My husband leaned away. His arms were crossed, his blue eyes cold. It was a dose of reality, a truth about my marriage. The photo explained his recent outbursts, sharp stares and insults. There was no denying it: My husband no longer loved me. What’s wrong with me, God? The word unlovable echoed in my head.

I began to pray. A hug, God. I need a hug. Even through my tears, I laughed at the foolishness of it. Asking God for hugs when there were so many bigger problems in the world to solve. Okay, God. Maybe not a hug. But at least let Mrs. Franco be nice this one time.

I wiped my face and made my way to the restaurant door.

“Oh, my goodness!” said the hostess when I walked in. She approached me with open arms. “Where have you been?” She gave me a good hug. “Look who’s here,” she said to the cashier.

“Sweetie, how are you?” The cashier rushed over to hug me. Suddenly, everyone gathered around, giving me hugs left and right. As the group parted, there stood Mrs. Franco. She put her arm around me. “Love, we’ve missed you!” she said.

Today I’m happily remarried. But I’ll never forget how on that night I learned that God loves me so much that I could bring him any need, no matter how insignificant it seemed. You never know when and how God will surprise you.

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