For those few readers who don’t recognize my title, this was the quote by Olaf of the acclaimed Disney movie, Frozen.  Olaf was the hilarious snowman that provided comic relief to a very concerning situation where the queen froze the entire kingdom.  And, as the story unfolded, a funny snowman named Olaf always stood by with a pithy one liner that relieved the concern from millions of children who thought the movie wouldn’t end well.  One of his famous introductory lines, “Hi, I’m Olaf.  I like warm hugs”…serves as today’s topic.

Years ago, a pastor named George Brantley spoke on the topic of fathering to a student body of 1,100 at a small Christian college in Texas.  He presented at the campus chapel over a two day span, ending it by offering a ‘safe hug’ to anyone who needed one.  What happened next was both tragic and astounding.

One by one, hundreds of college students, both young men and women, lined up to take Pastor Brantley up on his offer.  As they made their way to the front of the auditorium, some stood in line for over three hours, all to experience a safe hug from this caring man.  Pastor Brantley later said that there were so many who sobbed on his shoulders that he had to throw out his jacket and shirt.

Think of the power of this exchange that this story signifies.  There was such a powerful longing for the strong arms of a safe man to wrap his arms around them that that waited for minutes, even hours, to receive this small deposit into their emotional bank account.  In only two days this father figure so impacted these college students that they found themselves drawn to his authentic love and his gift of a safe touch.

A hug is a non-verbal communication gesture that affirms and communicates love.  Safe hugs touch the depths of who we are and warmly say that it’s going to be ok and more importantly, that you’re worth loving.

Perhaps your father wasn’t an overly touchy feely type, and you didn’t receive a lot of hugs growing up.  Perhaps your father wasn’t even in the picture due to death or divorce.  So, how would you react to a safe man offering you an affirming hug?  Is that creepy?  Or, deep inside, do you long for it?  Do you long for the love and affirmation and warmth that you imagine that hug to be?

In today’s society, and especially post-COVID, it seems that 1) we’re not overly comfortable be in each other’s personal space but 2) we’ve been reminded of our insatiable desire for warmth, love, care, and touch.  A handshake has turned into a fist bump, and a hug now turned into a head nod.

Far be it for me to tell you all to become huggers, I know that’s not for everyone.  But doesn’t Pastor Brantley’s story tug at your heartstrings? Doesn’t it remind you of the need for human connection?  Does it stir in you the longing for a fatherly hug… a safe hug?

Perhaps it doesn’t stir anything in you.  You might be thinking this whole post is weird.  Let me challenge you…

You may not like hugs, but perhaps your daughter does.  Perhaps your spouse or son or best friend or next-door neighbor who just lost a loved one does.  Life isn’t just about you.  It’s also about serving others.  A hug just might be what those ‘others’ in your life are looking for, are needing.

May you be bold enough, and caring enough, to offer love, warmth and care through a safe hug for someone in your path.

Hi, I’m Tony.  I like warm hugs.