“Much to the Touch”
February 03, 2019
by Ed Young
The idea for this series, TLC, came about in our kitchen. I was talking to our son and his fiancé and quickly the conversation moved into marriage and relationships and things of that nature. I don’t know, I just started talking about some of the things that I think are paramount when it comes to communication in relationships. I shared with EJ and Jess, TLC. This thing called TLC. You might be thinking tender loving care. No. You might be thinking the ’90s band. No. You might be thinking The Learning Channel. Good guess. TLC, a touch, a look, and a comment. Say it with me. A touch.
A touch. A look. And a comment.
I want you to think for a second, if you will, about your most significant relationships. If you’re married, obviously your spouse, family, your closest friends. And in your mind, just think about several columns, maybe a column underneath the T letter, the touch, the touches. Think about the touches for a second. You got that column in your mind? Or you could write this out if you would like. Then you have the L column, looks. Eye contact. Just think about that. Think about that for a second, the looks. Now, think about the conversation. Or you could say the comment section. Three significant areas.
I would argue from God’s point of view that these three areas are three of the most significant areas in communication, in this process. As I began to talk to my son and his fiancé about this process, I just told them some things that God had shown me over the years, and I began to unpack some areas that I knew nothing about until I walked down the wedding runner, until I looked back in the rear-view mirror and think about all these relationships and friendships. So think about those people that you’re close to. Maybe your classmates. Maybe it could be someone that you work with. Think about maybe it’s your fraternity brother. Or think about that person you know really well that you play golf with. Think about your spouse. Think about your kids. Think about touch.
How many touches, meaningful … Guys, non-sexual touches. Yes, there is something that is out there in touch that’s non-sexual. If you want to read about sexual touch, I’ve written a book called The Sexperiment. I’m not talking about sexual touching. I’m talking about appropriate touching, biblically-driven touching. It’s gotta be right and it’s got to be practiced in the exact context where God wants it, which should be with our closest relationships, in our marriage, in our friendships, with our family.
Speaking of touch, let me just talk about that T column for example. Speaking of touch, do you know that the human animal, the human being, research tells us needs 8 to 10 meaningful touches a day just for survival? Have you ever thought about that? Are you getting your touches in? Again, think about that column. Are you touching those people that you’re closest to? The touch. The touch. I’ve been spinning lately. Does anyone like to go to spin classes? I love spin classes. They’re brutal. They’re demonic. But I love them. I have a couple of instructors. I go to these classes and I usually take these instructors … One is a guy, and the other is a girl. These people are absolute animals. They’re in ridiculous shape.
So it’s interesting because they do such a great job of training and teaching, instructing you about how to do the various movements in the spin class. They’re very patient with everyone, especially with me. I’ve learned a ton about riding bikes, about spinning. But the other day, I was thinking, “You know what? I’m getting all this great instruction and I’m going nowhere.” Nowhere. It’s good. It’s good cardio because I had open-heart surgery a couple of years ago. They repaired a little valve. They split me from stem to stern and cracked open the chest and stopped the heart and all that. So I’ve always been in good cardiovascular shape, and maybe that’s why I was able to come through the surgery so healthy, so good. I feel better on this side of surgery than I did especially the years leading up to the surgery. So I’m happy about that.
So I’m thinking about cardio a lot, and I’m thinking about instruction. And then I started thinking about, “We get instruction in all these different areas, don’t we?” We get financial instructions. We get instruction legally. We get instruction about this company or instruction about how to put on makeup, ladies, or whatever it is. And that’s good. I love instructional videos, people who instruct us. That’s great, but rarely … And I told EJ and his fiancé is rarely do we ever really lean into the instructions given to us by God about how to communicate. I mean seriously. When was the last time you go, “I’m going to be instructed by the God of the universe regarding how to communicate?”
I think he knows a lot about communication because after all, he’s God. He made us. And to give you a theology of let’s say the T column, touch, just a brief word about bodyology. Theology of the body. If you think about Genesis for example, the Book of Genesis. As many of you know, this maybe some of you don’t know. God spoke everything into existence. He spoke it. Boom, it happened. Spoke it. Boom, there it was. Spoke it. Spoke it. Spoke it. But when it came to human beings, when it came to man, God literally rolled up his sleeves. I say literally, he got involved personally. And the Bible says that he used some of the earth and then he breathed the breath of life into man.
So we have a little bit of heaven and a little bit of earth. A little bit of earth and a little bit of heaven. God touched man when he made man. He got really involved in that process. So I’m made to touch. I’ve been touched by God. That’s something we need to understand. Moreover, what did Jesus do? Jesus, the Bible says, wore flesh. He became man. He wore a body. He had the senses that you have and that I have. Read the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Go through there and circle the words touch, hands, fingers. Most of those, and there’s over 200 of those references, most of those have to do with the person of Jesus. Isn’t that interesting?
We’re made to touch. God’s the God who’s touched us literally and figuratively and spiritually and physically. When we have this skin on, and in fact skin is the largest organ in our body. Did you know that? A little fun fact. The average adult has 21 square feet of skin on their bodies. 21 square feet of skin. But some of us love plastic surgery so much, we’ve hacked the 21 to about 19. Most of us have about 19 here. 11 miles of blood vessels. Blood vessels and our skin holds that in.
Have you ever thought about … Speaking of touch, we’re made in God’s image. God has touched us literally, figuratively, spiritually, physically, all those things. We’re touching right now. Yeah, I understand. You might be sitting next to someone, you’re rubbing elbows with them, or maybe you’re dating someone, playing footsie with them. Okay. Holding hands. Sometimes people are locked up like boa constrictors here when I speak. But I’m just talking about we feel the touch just being in the presence of other people, in the presence of God physically.
So our skin is made by God to feel the world around us. I sometimes think in the church, we’re like, “Oh, I don’t want to talk about the body too much.” Because of touching, very quickly it can take us to dark places. And yes, you’re exactly right. We’ve allowed the enemy to come in because of our fallenness, and we have all sorts of issues in our world today with inappropriate touch. I’m not talking about that because as you read the Biblical record, all of the people mentioned in some of the passages I’m going to share where it has to do with touch had a very high view of the body. They knew the body was a body by God and was holy.
Scripture says these touching words. I just want to give you theology on touch before we get very, very practical. We know that God has made us. He’s touched us. We know that skin matters because we have skin. We’re made in the image of God. Well, the Bible says in Psalm 145:16, “You open your hand,” it being God, “and satisfied the desire of every living thing that has to do with touch.” Now, let’s look at some of the writings in the Gospels. I’m going to run through these very, very quickly and think about touch. “Jesus put his hand and touched him.” “So he touched her hand.” “He went in and took her by the hand.” “Then he touched their eyes.” “Immediately, Jesus stretched out his hand.” “Jesus came and touched them.” “Then little children were brought to him that he might put his hands on them and pray.”
How many touches, I’m talking about meaningful touches, are you giving out a day? Research shows that just a pat on the back from a teacher will increase participation in class. Research also reveals the older we get, the more we need touch. And some other studies I read reveal that when doctors just put their hand on someone’s arm and look them in the eyes and say something positive and encouraging, it prolongs people’s lives. So science is just discovering now what God has been saying for a long, long time. The power of touch. Do you touch much? Because there’s much in the touch. Do you touch much?
Now, I’m not talking about becoming Mr. or Mrs. McFeely, like whoa. I’m not saying that. I’ll never forget in the early days of fellowship, I went to this apartment complex to meet this couple. They were kind of young and everything. So we were just talking. I didn’t know them. We talked for a little while. After about 30 minutes, I said, “Well, I really enjoyed talking with you guys.” So I extended my hand to shake their hands, and they had this weird look. They go, “We don’t shake hands. We’re huggers.” And for a split second, I thought to myself, “I’m not.” Isn’t that awkward when people do that?
Sometimes when I’m speaking or even at different places speaking, people will come up to me and they’ll go, “Give me a hug.” What do you do? What do you do? So I’m not talking about hugging strangers. No, no, no, no. I mean appropriate touch with people who have the proper context. I will say though we have to understand how to hug people. You want a hug. There are different types of hugs. There’s different types of body contact as we know. We have the fist bump and the high five. We got the chest bump. We got the bro hug. We got the side hug made popular by some Christians. The side hug is a little bit awkward. You go to hug someone, you have to pivot, and then you put your hip like that. I understand. I understand that. I’ll side hug.
You also can hug someone appropriately without pressing your body against theirs. That’s where it goes cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. So when you hug people, make sure you do it appropriately, lovingly, and biblically. So if you’re a side hugger, great. If you’re not a hugger, don’t feel like you have to hug. You can sometimes block the hug if you stand your left … would force your left legs, boom, just pop them. Boom, sometimes. And I’ve knocked several people over. But that’s okay. That’s okay.
Usually, you don’t want to hug unless someone … I’m just telling you some things about hugology. Unless they come up to you and you do that. And if you don’t know the person well or whatever, I just feel a little bit, not a little bit. I feel weird. Okay. But hug. You think I’m funny. Do you hug your spouse? You need to hug your spouse, a prolonged hug. Again, all of the things I’ve read as I prepared for touch, all of these stress hormones relax. We feel confident. We feel peace. I could even make a biblical case for hugging is even a physical act of reconciliation.
I’ve studied a lot of couples in my life. Those who were dating, those who were married. It’s interesting, you can tell a lot just by the way they touch or not. You can tell a lot about that. Are you touching your spouse? Are you touching your kids? It’s so important. Fathers, for example, to touch appropriately your kids. You hug, for example, your daughters. Then as they get older, they’re not going to jump into the arms of the first guy that winks at them. And we know too that if infants aren’t hugged or cuddled, then it can lead to violence and all sorts of mayhem. God has reached out and touched us through the person of Jesus. We should, as believers, reach out and touch others. Are you touching those people that God has brought into your life in appropriate ways? 8 to 10 touches. Think about that.
Now, let’s go to the L column. How about a look? You might be going, “Well, is that really that important?” Yes. The Bible says the eyes in the Book of Proverbs are the windows of our souls. This is just me, but over the years in interviewing so many couples for so many books and interviewing so many people on the stage and talking to so many people, like the little huggers I talked about earlier, I’ll tell you something about marriage, about a dating relationship that you can see just by seeing. I can look at a dating relationship or a marriage, and when the woman talks, I watch how the man looks at her when she’s talking. When the man is talking, sometimes I’ll just glance and look at the lady and see how she’s looking at him. Our eyes speak volumes.
I’ve seen some relationships where the guy’s talking and she’s going … That happens to Owen and Beverly all the time. In other words, when you look … Even though you heard this story 17 times, the same story about the touchdown pass he caught in JV football. Look at him lovingly, longingly, like, “You’re my man. You’re my knight in shining armor. You’re my Hallmark stud.” Ladies, we need that. We’re very insecure. On the other hands, guys … And women talk more than we do. When she is … Yes. Awesome. Even though you’re thinking about bass fishing. Even though you’re thinking about Tom Brady throwing a touchdown pass. Engaging … No, I’m kidding. Engage her, look at her, but look at her with looks of love and affirmation.
We many times miss this. It sounds so simple. But it’s so simple, we miss it. So we have to have eye contact. How often do you look into the eyes of those you’re closest to? A look. And what kind of looks are you giving them? You can look at your daughters and go, “Whoa.” And your daughters feel the love. So a touch, a look, and then a comment.
What do you say about those you love? What do you say? I’m going to talk about that. What do you say about them? Do you encourage them? Well, the Bible says encourage when you can, when you think about it. So when I think about an encouraging word, I should say it. People say this to me all the time I promise you. “Oh, Ed, I know you hear this all the time.” I go, “No, I don’t.” I’m serious. “Ed, I’ve been in fellowship church for five years. Now, I know you hear this all the time.” I go, “No, I don’t.” I don’t hear it enough. I can live off a great compliment for several months. And I want to tell you something, of all the speaking I’ve done, of all the leading I’ve done, not that I’ve done that much, but the one person other than God that puts more wind in my sail when they touch, look, and compliment me is my wife.
So husbands, wives, those who are dating, talk to one another, affirm one another. It’s so easy to be critical. Think about that column. 8 to 10 touches. Think about those touches. How about those looks? Are you really looking into her eyes or his eyes? Think about those looks. And then think about those comments. Well now, think about Jesus. Did Jesus touch us? Has he touched us? Yes, he’s touched my life. He’s touched my heart. And because he’s touched my heart, I have the desire to touch the hearts of others.
L, does he look at me? Are you kidding me? He’s omniscient, omnipresent. So how we’re just mirroring the majesty of our maker in communication. Do you see that? How about his comments? What is this book right here? This book, this book is a bunch of love letters. It’s what it is. Telling you and me how much we matter. Are you doing that to those in your life? “Oh, they know. They hear that all the time.” No, they don’t.
I mentioned earlier I had heart surgery. Split me open. Open the chest up, the heart. And through a strange set of circumstances, the gentleman that performed the surgery was one of the best valve surgeons in the world, in the world. Several months after I had the operation, I talked to him, and I said, “Dr. Lawrie, tell me a little bit about the surgery.” He began to tell me, and I’m like, “Whoa, that’s more than I want to know.” But he said something that revolutionized my life. He said, “Right before we closed you up, Ed, I grasped your heart. I massaged it for five minutes to get the air out. Because if you don’t, you would have stroked out and died. Then we closed you up.” And here I am. This great physician, Dr. Gerald Lawrie, literally touched my heart.
But there’s another great physician, the great physician, who’s touched my heart. And because he’s touched my heart, I want to live a life of TLC, a touch, a look, and a comment. It comes from God. He’s reached out to you and me. I want you to reach out to others as well.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]