This blog may make some of you uncomfortable, as I will be talking about the healing power of touch. If that does make you uncomfortable, please stop now and know that next week's topic will be different!
For those of you still here, I want to share something that has become an important realization to me in the last six months, as it has been such a surprise. It is intimate and personal, yet I think important. It has to do with sleeping with someone - not sex - but actually sleeping.
You see, Bob and I shared a bed for nineteen and a half years. Very early in our marriage we somehow decided that it was too hot and disruptive to hold each other during the night and still get a good night's sleep. And so we slept side by side but without touch. And to be honest, over the years when I saw people sleeping and holding each other on TV or in movies, I was 99% certain that they just did that for the cameras. After all, I believed that people can't actually get good sleep that way!
Imagine my surprise after marrying Michael six months ago when he immediately wanted to hold me all through the night. I thought, "well, we can try it but I can't imagine that we will get much sleep." For the first few nights, I didn't sleep much as I'm a light sleeper. But then I got used to it. And I have grown to absolutely love it. Suddenly, the bed is a haven, a safe place where being held is so healing and powerful. It is private and intimate, and no-one enters in that sacred place. To enjoy that for seven hours a night is an amazing thing! It makes you feel that you can face any troubles in the daytime, knowing that there will be healing again that night. If you have experienced this type of touch and affection for your entire married life, then you are indeed blessed. I wish I could turn back the hands of time and do it differently with Bob as I think it would have made our marriage even stronger and healthier.
Not only is being held a delight, but whenever Michael stirs during the night, he usually whispers some words of love to me for a second (almost unconsciously) and then falls right back to sleep. On one of the first nights when he stirred, with his arms around me, he said reassuringly "I've got you." I remember smiling and thinking to myself, "Really? You've got me? Hmmm...not sure I need that. After all, I'm this tough missionary lady who has survived rogues, arrests, a husband's death, and being alone in Africa. I think I've proven that I am not the type of woman who needs a man."
Yet, over the months, I have learned something additionally important. I do need someone to hold me and tell me that they've "got me". I have learned that I'm not so tough. I have learned that in many ways, this is how I was made to be at this time in my life - in relationship, in communion, both a helpmate to and a helpmate of another person. God has used Michael to slowly break down that wall of independence. The thing I love about Michael is that he has always seen me as Renita the person, and not Renita the missionary or Renita the widow or any other role. And so when he says he's "got me," he is telling me that NOT because I am needy or weak or need reassurance, but simply because he loves me. And that lesson has pointed me back to the realization of my dependence on God as well. I want to feel the embrace of God and know that He's "got me" but too often I don't want to bother Him, or I think I need to solve my issues for myself, or even worse, for Him. But God's desire for me, like Michael's, is one of pure love and acceptance, and He has proven over and over again to me that He's "got me."
That is one of the gifts of Christmas time - the message that He's "got us" whether we are married or single, old or young, wise or naive. The message is that it doesn't matter what we have or have not done, said or not said, thought or not thought; He loves us and He desires to be intimate with us and hold us in His safe, reliable, and ever-loving arms. And likewise, I think the message for us is that we need each other to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to hug and encourage, to "have" each other when we need each other and even when we don't.
Since getting married, Michael and I have heard independently from countless people, in many places, how much better we look, how much healthier, more rested, more youthful, and more lovely we look. [In fact, it has happened so often that I shudder to think of how terrible I must have looked before - and that it was obvious to so many people!] I believe that this change is a reflection of the healing power of touch, of safety, and of the joys of marriage.
As we enter this week of Christmas, my prayer for all of you, dear friends, is that you experience the loving arms of God and know that through the birth of Christ we can be assured that, indeed, He's got us.