The Healing Power of Touch
"Then they brought little children to Him [Jesus], that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, 'Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.' And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them."1
A Daily Encounter reader whom I will call Linda wrote: "As an unmarried incest survivor who is a Christian, I wondered if you might address the subject of 'touch deprivation' in an upcoming devotional. I find that, though I have had counseling and there has been tremendous growth and healing, I struggle desperately each day with being completely deprived of touch. I have been asking the Lord for many years now for someone to love me, so I can experience closeness, touch, and companionship. Would it be possible to address this issue?"
Many articles, both personal and scientific, all attest to the healing power of touch. Children who were deprived of sufficient loving touch often grow up to be somewhat cold and distant in relating to other people. Other children who were abused either physically or sexually can also have relational and emotional difficulties as adults. While they hunger for touch, touch can trigger their painful memories of past hurtful experiences and revive all those associated negative emotions.
As adults we still need the healing power of touch. If we don't get this need met in healthy ways, we can become physically ill, emotionally starved, and/or try to get the need for touch met in unhealthy ways such as in harmful sexual activities that only add to one's emotional deprivation and sense of loneliness.
So, how do people like Linda who is only one among thousands in this predicament get their needs for touch met?
First, people who have been hurt by harmful touch need to get into an effective recovery/therapy program to overcome their fear of touch and resolve the painful memories and emotions that are triggered by touch.
Second, rather than praying for a partner to love, pray that God will lead you to a healthy recovery program so you can be healed, for only healthy people find healthy love.
Third, a very effective way to get the need for touch met in a healthy way is through wholesome massage by a registered masseuse and/or masseur. This applies to both men and women. A half-hour massage can reduce stress, support your immune system, help you feel calmer, and meet your need for touch hunger. This is very non-threatening touch as there is nothing demanded back from you in return.
Fourth, if you are a woman, hug your sister, your mother, little children, and your friends. If you are a man (men need touch just as much as women), and don't feel comfortable yet in hugging other men, start touching your brother or friend on the arm, or patting him on the back. In time you will learn to be comfortable with a good bear hug from other men.
Fifth, a great place to give and receive healthy touch and hugs is in a healthy church. In Paul's day it was culturally acceptable (as it still is in some cultures) to greet one another with a holy kiss. Here in the West we, especially we men, don't find this culturally acceptable. So, to be culturally adaptable, let's put it this way, "Greet one another with a holy hug."
Remember, Jesus held the children and blessed them. He also touched sick people when he healed them. His indeed was a healing touch. And healing touch is something we all need.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that your Son Jesus always gave people in need a healing touch. Help me to find the healing touch that I need and become a healing 'toucher' to others—always touching and hugging to give love and not for any ulterior motive. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name. Amen."
1. Mark 10:13-14, 16 (NKJV).