I had not heard of the “hug lady” until this past Saturday, January 2, 2016. Because of the political nature of most stories, I usually avoid the national news shows as much as possible. However, that day I happened to be watching the last segment. The news was that the hug lady had died.

Her name was Elizabeth Laird and her unique relationship with the service men and women of Fort Hood began in in 2003. It started rather simply. After one young man hugged her, another wanted do so, and then another, and so on. It was estimated at her death that she had given over 500,000 hugs. She wanted each soldier to feel loved and appreciated, so she made her way to the base to greet groups, whether large or small. For much of the time, she was in the midst of her own battle with breast cancer.

Elizabeth died Christmas Eve, 2015, at the age of 83. However, that did not occur before she had been visited and hugged by many of those whom she had helped previously. Glowing tributes were offered at her passing, and many people attended her funeral. All of this because of one simple gesture which anyone can offer.

The hug lady‘s story reminds me of a couple of things which are so important in living for God. First, we are to appreciate one another. When we are told to love (John 13:34, 35; 1 Corinthians 13:13; 16:14; 1 John 4:11), we are not commanded to embrace. But, hugging is a very clear demonstration of love and appreciation (Acts 20:27).

Secondly, hugging is something any Christian can do. Public speaking ability, in-depth Bible knowledge, as well many other traits some desire, are not necessary. It is a simple, universal gesture of acceptance and appreciation. You may not be as eloquent, or as wise, or as talented as you would want to be, but you can do something for a brother or sister in Christ that will affect them for many years—hug them. It is a gift that will be returned to you several times over. Truly, there is “a time to embrace” (Ecclesiastes 3:5).

Lance Cordle
Calvert City, KY

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