Americans. We are hard to generalize in one statement, because we are diverse.
However, generally overseas, we are known to be loud, and vocal with our opinions. We are very expressive with our emotions, and we really like to give hugs.
Before moving overseas, I didn’t realize how uncomfortable this can make other cultures feel, particular when hugs are given across gender lines, but in many cases even within the same gender. It just isn’t done. So, for me, hugs overseas are restricted to those (mostly females) that I have gotten to know and I believe will not be completely uncomfortable by the hugging action.
In Malawi, you are best off sticking with a hand shake, though you will quickly discover that this too, can have various forms.
A hug – arms open, then close around the hugged. There are clearly many different types of hugs, and ways to hug, with appropriate times for all of them. And, the closer the hug, the more intimate the relationship. You move from a hug to an embrace.
Embrace. Arms wide, to welcome with joy the one being received, personal boundaries temporarily suspended to express affection. It can be an invitation to be present, or a final moment of nearness before parting ways.
“Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”(Romans 12:1 MSG)
I love January. The idea that a year can actually be new. Somehow, it gives the idea that I can start again – refocus. After all, it is a new unit of time. A new measurement by which to number my days.
As a missionary with a not-yet-two year old, and number two very soon to join our family, most of my “everyday, ordinary life” is focused around being present with my daughter and keeping the household running.
Somehow, even with my love of newness, I never seem to actually make a New Years Resolution. The potential for failure is nearly certain, so why waste time working towards unattainable goals? A few years ago I came across oneword365.
A word, to recenter and focus throughout whatever the year may bring. Something that I don’t need to achieve, but that I can reorient myself around, in a specific way that the Spirit is working in me. A word is dynamic, and it’s meaning can change and teach and become something treasured, held close.
Yes, this is something that I can be about. This is something I can do.
This year, my word is embrace.
Not just in the anticipation of getting to physically wrap my arms around those that we miss who live across borders, or around our soon to come newborn child, but opening my arms wide to be present wherever we find ourselves. Hands open, in gratitude to each moment we receive. (Including the upcoming late nights, and scrubbing cloth diapers, and toddler struggles for independence.) Asking to see what God is doing, and what God has already done, and willingly, with great affection, saying, “yes.”
Maybe you could also use a word for 2016… What is your word?