Can I Get a Hug?

I know I am behind the curve on discovering The Chosen. One of our daughters gave us the DVD for Season 1 two Christmases ago but we never dug out a video player to watch it. Thank you for the thoughtful gift, sweetheart. And sorry for ignoring your love. But I just found it on Prime and we have been binge-watching it for the past week.

If you don’t know the show, it’s about the life and ministry of Jesus — but unlike any other I have ever seen. It feels real, human. Somehow, I can relate to it. And I am not sure how I relate to it. I just feel it. It moves me in the right way — I feel better for having watched it. It almost feels tangibly good, like going to church and partaking in the sacrament (no sacrilege intended).

But here’s the thing: I hurt after watching it. Throughout my life, as I wrote in my book, Unworthy, I have not felt God’s love, as in “God doesn’t love me.” That sense was a central factor in the Unworthy narrative. “Well of course He doesn’t love me. What’s to love?”

I thought I had conquered this sense of abandonment. This particular abandonment — me abandoning Him or Him abandoning me…or by mutual agreement. I am referring to my Heavenly Father, you know God. On the other hand, His Beloved Son, Jesus, was made to love me. He was born to love me. He lived to love me and He died to love me.

Here is the rub: I never have received a hug from Jesus.

I watch The Chosen and Jesus heals, hugs, and whispers, “I love you.” I melt. I quietly weep. This sadness is different than when I watched the movie, My Girl, forgetting little Thomas dies at the end and when I ball my eyes out for a half hour trying to regain my composure. No, The Chosen’s hug scenes feel different to me. Deeper. More longing.

One of my favorite religious and ancient scripture professors from Brigham Young University (BYU), the late and great Hugh Nibley, taught that the word “atonement” means the “encircling of arms,” among other meanings. In other words, the word “atonement” means a hug.

I have not received my hug from Jesus. I have been baptized, followed commandments, repented when I’ve failed, and continued on. I have felt the Holy Spirit in my life, but not too often. I am not a very spiritual person — and maybe that is a part of the problem. Maybe I am not trying hard enough to get close to Jesus. I realize some readers already might be mentally sharing their remedies such as, “Just pray harder. Serve more. Love more.” But those ideas feel like when I am depressed and someone says, “Get over it.” Thanks for the advice.

In The Chosen, Jesus walks passed plenty of people without talking to them or touching them or even looking like He cares about them, only to find the one person He is looking for, whether at the wedding, at the well, at the Pool, or inside a synagogue. Perhaps I am one of those people He walks passed…or I walk passed Him. He seems very selective in choosing His acts and concerns. Or perhaps I am very selective. But I get it. It is a movie.

Even so, I want a hug. I want Jesus to hug me. Now. Not when I’m found worthy or unworthy in judgment after I die. I need to have Him heal me, hug me, and tell me that He loves me. I am even emotional writing this. I realize every doctrinal and actual problem with my request. Nobody needs to tell me how to receive His hug. I can read. I can pray. I just miss it and long for it. Furthermore, there are many people I love and hope the same for them. They, too, need a hug from Jesus.

Until that time comes I will have to settle for (i.e., cherish) hugs from Sally and family members and dear friends. If my hugs in return linger a bit, know that I’m not being weird, just feeling…and missing. I need to feel my Savior’s love in the form of a hug.

It is a simple question. Can I get a hug?


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