What’s in a Hug?

By on April 1, 2012

By Laura Petherbridge –

Judy’s hugs have changed recently.

My friend no longer offers a brief squeeze, she now holds on tight, and whispers words of encouragement and affirmation in my ear.

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When we speak her face reveals that she’s cherishing each moment, each conversation, and each laugh a bit more than before.

Judy has cancer. The prognosis isn’t good.

Recently, from across the room during a church service I spotted my friend radiating a smile. She enthusiastically sang and honored her God. Judy is ready.

I’m taking notes.

Several months ago the doctors offered her the opportunity to test a new drug for cancer. The medication has offered her more time. She has accepted the cancer without complaint, grumbling, or self-pity.

Judy has inspired me to hold on to life a bit more loosely and to “keep the main thing—the main thing.” And to see people, really see them.

Last month I was speaking at a women’s conference when a woman came up to me and said, “I enjoyed singing next to you during the worship time yesterday,” and then she sat down a few rows ahead of me. To be honest, in my frenzy to accomplish tasks, I hardly noticed her sitting next to me the day before.

Now I realized that joining voices together meant something significant to her. And as the worship music began to play, I got out of my seat, walked over to her and put my arm around her waist. United in song, we once again praised the Living God together.

But it was more, much more. I saw this woman—really saw her. And God immediately gave me a supernatural love for this stranger. My soul whispered, “This is the abundant life, Jesus. Right now, this love is true living. Thank you for helping me to see this woman.”

I’m in a different season of life than my friend, Judy.  No storm is raging today. However, I want to learn from her tsunami. And hug a little tighter and longer—like Judy does.

How about you? What do your hugs communicate?


Laura Petherbridge is an international author and speaker who serves couples and single adults with topics on relationships, divorce prevention, singleness, and divorce recovery. She is the author of “When ‘I Do’ Becomes ‘I Don’t’—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce,” and  “The Smart Stepmom,” coauthored with Ron Deal. Her website is www.Laurapetherbridge.com.

About Laura Petherbridge

Laura Petherbridge is an international author and speaker who serves couples and single adults with topics on spiritual growth, relationships, co-parenting, stepfamilies, divorce prevention and divorce recovery. She is the author of, When“I Do” Becomes “I Don’t”—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce, and The Smart Stepmom co-authored with Ron Deal. Laura has spoken at the Billy Graham Training Center. Her various TV and radio broadcasts include: Focus on the Family, Moody Broadcasting, Family Life Today with Dennis Rainey, 100 Huntley Street (Canada) and HomeWord with Jim Burns In addition to her books she has been published in: Christianity Today’s Marriage Partnership, Crosswalk.com, Christian Broadcasting Network- CBN.com, Stepmom Magazine and Proverbs 31 Woman. Laura is a featured expert on the DivorceCare DVD series, she has taught on divorce recovery at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, and functioned as a Stephen’s Ministry instructor. Laura is a contributor to several publications including: The Twenty-Third Psalm for the Brokenhearted, The Art Of Helping, When God Steps In, and Hope, Help, and Healing During and After Your Divorce. Laura and her husband, Steve, reside in Lady Lake, FL. A stepmom of 25 years, she can be reached at [email protected] and www.TheSmartStepmom.com

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What’s in a Hug?