Yesterday, in church, we were discussing the "power of touch", and how the Savior used it in a very personal, individual, and one-on-one way with the Nephites, both as a touchee (3Ne 11:15) and as a toucher (3Ne 17:9, 10, 21).
Often, we are touchers as well as touchees. It takes both...
EXAMPLE 1: "Tim" (my not-so-imaginary-boy-friend) showed up at church - this time with his fiancee. Yes, he's officially engaged to the most amazing, beautiful young woman! (I know my dedicated readers - the two of you - realize my feelings for Tim, and his feelings for me that you are convinced he must be gay, but again I contend that he is not - he's just openly affectionate and passionate about the uniqueness of our relationship as I am - in a very non-sexual physical way). In many ways, I find myself very jealous and envious of her. She gets to have MY Tim for herself. In other ways, I'm so happy for her as he will be such a blessing to her and they seem so happy together.
I wondered how he would react to me with her now officially linked to him - would this change our relationship? Would he be less affectionate in front of her? She knows of our unique relationship and bond. Would he be self-conscious about showing her our uniqueness in being less physical? I waited and wondered and watched. After the lesson, he came to me and hugged ME. It was a bit tentative as she stood there. He then reached his large hand behind my neck, and I did the same, and we held our heads together - forehead to forehead, nose to nose, for some time and whispered our love to each other - again with her standing there. There was no deception, no dishonesty, just innocent and pure touch - on his part. On my part, I was analyzing everything too much and nervous of what she would be thinking. Maybe I'm trained and programmed to be on guard too much (is my wife watching?), but I was pleased to see that even with this new development in his life, Tim still hasn't changed in his affection for me.
I am truly happy for him. This is a wonderful thing. Somehow, though, I know that it will never be the same between us... and that is the way it should be. Right?
EXAMPLE 2: There is a high priest in our ward that has lately made it a habit of finding me and giving me an affectionate hug, and telling me how "close" he feels to me and how much he "loves" me and is "connected" to me. He is in his mid 60s, has a mean comb-over, and recently developed a little grey soul-patch. I have nothing to do with him, am not associated with him (other than attending the same priesthood meeting) and feel no extraordinary connection. He tends to interrupt my conversations with others to make a point of showing his affection for me. I oblige as the touchee, but it's beginning to creep me out! What's going on here?
EXAMPLE 3: My wife needs my constant touch - a reassurance that I'm there for her and that I'm not going anywhere (there is still a fear of my leaving her for another man). Since I'm not so keenly aware of this need of hers (except when I'm in the arms of Tim - and - you'd think I'd learn, but my wiring is often disconnected or out-of-service) until she bursts into tears just looking at me (especially when I've allowed the pressures of my work to take precedence over our relationship needs), I often am reminded that affection and touch signal and satisfy needs she may have from me that I may not always need from her. That may sound cruel - I don't mean it to be. I need to be not only the touchee, but the toucher as well, instigating and initiating heart-felt affection.
Warning to readers: This post is not full of the normal angst, and may be considered by some as gaggy... so read at your own risk:
Sometimes the "validation" we all seek comes from a payday of sorts. We receive a reward or a bonus check, or a new job or project. Sometimes we are part of a winning team. Sometimes we get accolades from our friends and associates.
And sometimes we receive the best validation or accolades of all - those that come from the spirit testifying one-on-one to our souls that we are loved and understood and known intimately by our Heavenly Father.
This past weekend was one of those "sometimes" for me. Without going into too much detail (as I don't feel it appropriate) let me just say that it involved spiritual connections with my wife and kids, it reaffirmed love from extended family, and it brought closeness to our lives together that I haven't felt in some time! The tenderness of the occasion, the confirmation of testimonies, the reassurance of the Comforter, witnessed for me the joy that comes from a source greater than ourselves.
It was an experience where a father steps back and looks at his kids and catches a glimpse, for just a moment, of what the Father sees in all of us.
I reflect on this experience and confirm that God is real, God is love. God loves me. And if I am loved, and "valid" with all my shortcomings, then certainly you are loved as well...