Let’s say you have opportunities to make physical contact with others in your life.
You understand the boundaries of physical touch. Here they are:
1.You know some people don’t want to be touched. They shy away from tactile contact with others.
2.Touch between people who don’t know each other is a problem if the touch is deemed inappropriate [part of the body touched and the length of touch].
3.Touch should be gentle [for example, too much pressure is perceived as a negative].
4.Touch can be perceived as a positive or a negative depending on the presence of other people and the physical context.
With all these factors in mind, let’s look at the many benefits of physical touch.
1.We are social beings. Generally humans want some connection with other human beings. Part of that connection is touch. Touch can range from ritual touch like a handshake to a pat on the back or even a hug, but many of us like touch. Failure to thrive findings among newborns support this idea. Babies who are deprived of touch have literally “wasted away” due to lack of touch.
2.Anxiety is something that many of us suffer from. Have you ever had a horrible day and you don’t feel normal, maybe you are not feeling safe? Adults benefit from a hug from time to time as this touch calms us down.
3.Bonding with the ones we love is important. Too often we get so busy with everyday life that we forget that we need to stop and hold our loved one’s hand. We need to put our arm around that special someone as you watch tv together. Letting this bonding activity go dormant can hurt our relationships; this contact needs to be maintained on a regular basis.
4.Touch lowers your blood pressure. Studies have been done that prove that people who are touched on a regular basis have lower blood pressure than people who never get touched. Touch can slow the heart rate. Touch can even speed the healing process after injury or surgery.
5.Touch can improve your outlook on life. It is much harder to maintain a pessimistic outlook on life if you feel connected to others. Touch can communicate positive feeling, trust and love. If the circumstances are right, there’s not much negative in touching ones you care about.
6.Scientists are just now finding out that the soft skill of human touch helps brain development and emotional development. For many years, medical practitioners have focused on medication as the cure-all and now human touch is getting the attention it deserves. Our brain benefits from the pleasure of a deep tissue massage. Our emotions benefit from the soothing warmth of a safe and loving hug.
Yet people don’t touch enough.
The short answer: they have forgotten that they can channel God’s love through their touch.
Dr. Chapman has written a wonderful book and I don’t quote it often but I am going to quote it today as he drives home the important role of touch in the Christian’s life.
“ ‘Since the first century, thousands of men and women have claimed to have been touched by God. They in turn, have touched others as representatives of Christ. They work in hospitals, giving baths and wiping fevered brows. You will find them in rescue missions, kneeling beside the homeless with an arm draped around the shoulder of a needy person. They serve as ‘greeters’ in their churches. These are people who, with a smile, extend a hand and give an affirming ‘pat on the back’ as people enter the house of worship. They are channels of God’s love, speaking fluently the love language of physical touch.’ “