My Favorite Moment from NYC, Part 2.

I’ve already told you about the Hug Heard Round the World, one of the simplest but most impactful moments in my life. 

When I was thinking about it afterwards, I realized that there were plenty of other simple moments that made a huge impact in my life. Let me tell you about another:

On Thursday after morning worship, many participants had already left, and the rest were packing up and getting ready to leave. I wasn’t leaving until the next day, so I was in the NUC staff office, helping to clean and pack up. Whatever needed done. 

We realized that we had hundreds of left over bottles of water, and nothing to do with them. We would have to throw them out, if we couldn’t find a better way to get rid of them.

“Why don’t we give them away? Who wants to take these to the bus loading area with me and give them away?” I wasn’t the one to suggest it, but I immediately volunteered. Honestly, I was just looking for a way to get out of the office. 

We piled the bottles on a dolly, and we wheeled them over to Moby arena, where hundreds of people were hanging outside in the sun, waiting for their turn to take a shuttle to the airport. We wheeled casually into the center of this crowd, and started handing out water. 

There’s something about a grateful smile that fills me with such an unusual happiness. It’s different from the happiness I get from other sources. Different than when I hang out with my friends. Or watch a funny movie. Or pet a pug. 

These moments of happiness are great, and I love them (especially petting pugs) but if i had choose between doing any of these, and being generous to complete strangers, I would go with being generous. 

And when I think about it, a lot of the things that make me happy at other times, include an element of generosity. Like when I’m petting a pug. If the pug wasn’t into it, I wouldn’t be into it. (I really like pugs.)

There’s just something about generosity. Handing out water. Hugging. Pugging. Whatever. 

Generosity. Of your time. Of your spirit. Of your emotions. Of your empathy. Of you life.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that generosity and giving figure prominently into the Sermon on the Mount. Live generously. Love generously. Be generous. This is at the heart of being a Dunker Punk. 

I Didn’t Choose the Hug life, the Hug Life Chose Me.

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
much
much
simpler.

And harder.

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:

hugs

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.
Great.

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.

And….
Suddenly
My life will
Never
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.