Before We Start…
There are two things I want to mention before I get into the story that is the main point of this post. The first is that there are a couple of embraces that are imprinted in my brain and I’ll remember for a lifetime. One was the last time I ever walked off a baseball field my senior year of high school and my dad was waiting by the dugout to give me a hug. He was crying very hard, so soon I was crying very hard. Another one was right after I graduated high school. My best friend and I had been through a lot that year. He was crying and soon I was crying. We hugged and it was great.
The second thing I want to mention is a pet peeve of mine. I do not like it when I am excited to see someone and they pretend they are not excited to see me. It is done with good intentions. Most people connect through humor and have a hard time connecting emotionally. I get it. But there is something annoying about smiling at someone and them rolling their eyes playfully and saying something like “Ugh, why are you here” or “Nobody asked for you”. I am guilty of this too and am trying to get better at showing affection.
With all this on my heart and mind, I have been thinking about the PTM Wide Retreat two years ago. Specifically, I have been thinking about three of my fourth grade girls that were on the trip with me. They were fun and smart and I loved them a lot. They are also queens of the “pretending not to like seeing someone” thing. But something really special happened on the Saturday morning of retreat. We were having our daily worship session. It was beautiful and I was feeling very emotional. And then, with complete sincerity, all three approached me, put their arms around me, and sang with me. I’ll remember it forever.
I cannot prove this happened and they would probably all deny it. But much like the embraces above, I will remember that moment until I stop breathing. Being away from mostly everyone I love during this pandemic has been really challenging, and I know this feeling is not uniquely mine. We are all struggling and longing for normalcy. Or a hug. But I smile and feel warm inside when I think of that moment at retreat or the hug from my father or best friend. I smile thinking about all the embraces that I will remember forever after this. There are a lot of special hugs and worshipful moments waiting for us at the end of this.
I miss my PTM kids a lot. There’s a good chance that students will still pretend to not want to see me the next time we are together. And that’s fine. I will no longer return the joke- I will smile, tell them I love them, and give them a crazy big hug.