Bubbles are oddly fascinating to me. Iridescent, perfect, and more fragile than seems possible. No matter how ugly life gets, they float effortlessly with ease and beauty. In case you didn’t know it, today is National Hugging Day. And also in case you didn’t know it, I’m not naturally a hugger. One of my favorite things about moving to New England was the assumption that everyone’s personal bubble would be as hefty as my own (and let me tell you, it’s hard to live in the South with a bubble like that—hugs lurked around every corner).
Growing up, I needed a fair amount of personal and emotional space to function. We introverts cherish our time alone. But this went deeper: real and perceived hurts prompted me to actively guard my heart, maintaining my own safety. Fear started to consume me. As time progressed, I noticed my habit of keeping people at arm’s length begin to affect my ability to relate. (Shocking, I know.)
Fast-forward to this season of relearning how the gospel bumps up against my bubble in transformative ways. (I’ve always been super slow on the uptake, so it’s completely possible that this will seem like obvious stuff to you, but I’m knee-deep in it right now.) The thing is, Jesus came to replace our bubbles. I am now free (in theory) to let down my guard with others and invite them into the hospitality and friendship I’ve been offered. I don’t have to guard myself because I am guarded by the One who is infinitely more powerful to protect than I am. I say in theory because it’s one thing to write it, to make it sound pretty in black-and-white print, and completely another to step out and put action to it. But my bubble must pop sometime.
The gospel enables love and disables comfort zones. I’m finding that the two are exclusive. When I care more about my own way than I do about your welfare, I’m not acting in love. Real love is dangerous. It’s vulnerable. It’s inconvenient and uncomfortable. And it cannot survive in a bubble of self-protection: it just can’t.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Pop. Pop. Pop. Because of the cross, we’re all bursting our bubbles.
What brave and loving step can you take toward someone else today? Mine might be giving a hug. Watch out, world.