During the last few months of Jesus’ ministry on earth (during the Perean Ministry), our Lord addressed several very important topics. He prophesied about His coming sufferings, He discoursed on the topic of divorce, and told the story about the rich young ruler. And right in the middle of that time period, three of the gospels record an important story, the one about the children coming to Jesus for a blessing.
The passage in Mark 10:13-16 begins with the words, “And they were bringing little children to Him so that He might touch them.” Touch them…Jesus thought it was very important that He physically touch each child. He no doubt brought them close to Himself; He hugged, caressed, we might even say snuggled those children for a specific purpose. He was emphasizing the importance of childlike faith, but He was also modeling how to meet people’s needs. And those kids needed a hug.
Frankly, so do you and me.
Modern science has identified a powerful hormone called Oxytocin. It is a neuromodulator in our brains. This hormone plays a very important role in childbirth (it facilitates labor, assists with maternal bonding and helps stimulate breastfeeding). But they have also discovered that this hormone is associated with much more than just the birth of a child. In fact, apparently Oxytocin promotes positive social behavior, encourages relationships, makes us feel more sympathetic and causes us to be more open with our feelings.
This hormone is triggered by touch. Studies have found that the touch from another human being is incredibly important socially, emotionally and physically. Babies in orphanages who have been fed and given proper care, but not held and nurtured grow up emotionally stilted and have a great propensity for illness. Couples who only touch during sexual activity are much more likely to divorce than those who touch each other regularly.
The” touchers” of this world live happier lives, enjoy each other more openly and live longer.
A touch is a very powerful thing. Of course appropriate boundaries exist in our society, but there are many appropriate ways to touch almost everyone in your world. When we do so, we feel more connected, our anxiety is reduced, there is a kind of bonding that occurs and the net effect is lower blood pressure and an improved outlook on life.
So maybe this week, you and I should concentrate on doing what Jesus modeled. Let’s appropriately reach out and touch those around us. A hug here, a pat there, a double handed handshake, a squeeze for this one and a tap on the arm for the other one will be a great step in the right direction.
One psychologist suggested that we all need at least 12 hugs a day in order to live a properly balanced life. So start counting those hugs!
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel