I’d like to take a moment to share what was probably the most meaningful experience from NYC 2014 for me.
NYC was full of amazing, life changing things. Inspiring speakers, like Roger Nishioka, who brought us to tears and to our feet. Challenging speakers, like Jarrod McKenna moved us to action in incredible and various ways, including inspiring me to make this website and leading all of us to become Dunker Punks.
We saw amazing displays of faith and talent. We heard Jesus speak to us and stir within us. We attended workshops that ignited our creativity, we got our hands dirty, we immersed ourself in God’s creation.
But the most important moment for me was
Here’s a picture of me and some really awesome people wearing an incredible, terrible shirt:
And here’s an example of what will happen to you when you wear a shirt like this:
Sounds good right?
Unless you’re me.
Something about me:
I. Am. Not. A. Hugger.
So here I am, wearing this shirt to morning worship, and we decide that we’re going to each stand in front of an entrance and offer hugs to people as they filter by.
So here I am, awaiting the first hug, arms outstretched, filled with thoughts like:
What if they smell bad?
Or are sweaty?
Or crush me?
Or what if I smell bad?
Do I smell bad?
Oh great I think I smell bad.
And here someone is, coming in for a hug, approaching as if in slow motion.
And here I am, wrapping my arms around them.
My life will
Be the same.
Ever. (If you’re wondering what made me so passionate about being a Dunker Punk, it was somewhere around hug #4, before I’d ever even heard the phrase “Dunker Punks.”)
And as more and more people hug me, I find this smile building on my face that, no matter what I do, I can’t seem to get rid of. All of the sudden, I’m not just a hugger, I’m a hug monster.
There are moments when you overflow with Jesus’ love. This was one them.
There were a lot of life changing moments for me and for everyone else at NYC, but the day I wore my “Free Hugs” shirt will be a day I never, ever forget.
Remember the passage the Jarrod taught us to study in earnest: The Sermon on the Mount. Part of the Sermon, Matthew 5:43-48, reads:
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” (The Message)
It’s easy to hug the people I love: my family, my closest friends, my girlfriend, etc.
It’s not so easy to put on a “Free Hugs” shirt and hug complete strangers.
And you know what, I bet it wasn’t always easy for those complete strangers to approach me for a hug.
But when you break down the walls you build up around yourself, when you resolve to live and love generously, amazing things can happen.