One time during mass Fr. Joe Freedy paused right before Holy Communion and addressed everyone saying, “As you come up for Communion really allow God to embrace you.” It was a beautiful interjection that of course left me thinking and reflecting for awhile.
It was beautiful in its own right because God is always there ready to embrace you. It’s really a matter of you being willing to let Him embrace you. But then I realized an important piece was missing to this sentiment.
God can embrace us day after day and when you let Him embrace you get to experience the joy of His peaceful, freeing, perfect and loving embrace. It was nice to be reminded of “Hey Maureen, I’m here waiting for you. Let me hug you!” But that’s not where it stops – you need to go one step further. You need to Embrace Him Back.
Embracing Him Back requires you not only let God in and into your heart and soul where He can fill you with His love, but that you open up your arms and fully open your heart back to Him and truly accept His love and that He is calling you His and wants you to live for Him.
A one-sided hug is not as satisfying as a two-sided one.
I talked about this with Bridgette and we realized this same situation plays out in our own lives. We love hugging Nora. We often chase her around requesting hugs. Nora will run around and be her amazing independent self and sometimes when you ask her for a hug she says yes but sometimes she says no. And when she says “Yes” and lets us hug her we are filled with great joy. And Nora is funny because she often lets you hug her but doesn’t raise her arms up to hug you back – it’s like she knows we really, really, really want that hug and so she agrees to let us hug her, but she is just doing it to make us happy. But sometimes when we hug her she hugs us back and when she gives us that hug we are filled with such great joy that our hearts could burst.
This is just a microcosm of an experience compared to who God is and how He wishes to embrace us. His love is infinite and truly incomprehensible, but being able to relate what this might be like for God and His hopes for me – it makes me feel so loved. God loves me so much that all He longs to do is embrace me. And He patiently waits for me to embrace Him back. There is no good reason to not lift my arms, open my heart, and enter into His embrace. And luckily for me (and for you!) it’s a hug that does not ever need to actually end. And the good news is God doesn’t hug us one by one – I don’t have to wait for Him to finish hugging you before He can hug me. We are blessed because we have a God who embraces each and everyone one of us every moment. We just need to remember that He is there and that we can turn to Him and stay in His embrace. And then with God’s grace hopefully we will find ourselves open enough to embrace Him back and smart enough to never let go.
As for me getting to embrace Nora – well that looks like I will be a long life of chasing her and waiting for those fleeting beautiful moments when she let’s me hug her and she hugs me back.