There are lots of different kinds of hugs. There are guy hugs that include lots of yelling and backslapping, quick friend hugs that only last a second or two, side hugs that just say ‘hey, you’re special’, and so on and so on. Then there are those hugs, generally reserved for those who are truly intimate (i.e. siblings, parent and child, childhood friends, lovers, etc), where a person just hangs on to you and doesn’t want to let you go. The kind of hug that lets you know that this person doesn’t want you to leave. I got one of those tonight.

I know I’ve written about my friend… Shana. She’s a 14 year old girl who I’ve known since she was 2. She is my favorite kid in the world (except possibly my nephew… I kind of feel like I have to add that in). Sometimes I think she might have a crush on me, although I honestly doubt it. Every now and then she’ll give me a hug and just not want to let go, or we’ll high five and she’ll grab my hand and hold it a little longer than necessary. I know she’s at that age where she’s started thinking about boys, but doesn’t really want to admit it yet, and I know she loves me.

I’ve actually taken a few steps, just in case. Thrown in the word ‘kid’ every now and then when I’m talking to her, stuff like that. Honestly though, I don’t think the has a crush on me. I think that she loves me, and knows that I love her, and is maybe having a tiny bit of trouble figuring out what that looks like now that she’s becoming an adult. Heck, I fell in love with a 17 year old not too very long ago simply because I’d known her forever and couldn’t figure out the difference between love and romantic love. … …I’m still trying to figure out this whole love thing, I came pretty late to the game. Thankfully, the 17 year old set me straight, and that was definitely a good thing.

Still, those hugs are nice. The kind that let you know that someone truly, completely wants you around, and that’s what tonight was. There wasn’t any confusion in the hug she gave me tonight. No worries about anything, just love. So often in today’s culture we think of love as a dirty word. As a friend of mine recently said, we define love as ‘eros’ when we should be looking for ‘agape’, and that part of why (even anonymously) I kind of hesitate to write this. I worry that someone will read this and misunderstand. I worry that my own eros infused brain will point me in the wrong direction. I worry that my thoughts or my heart won’t be pure and fatherly.

I think these worries are good things. They keep me watchful over my own actions and emotions, and this is a good thing… as long as it doesn’t go to far. This is always the thing with limitations and protections. They are good, until they become legalistic. That’s the key with limitations. They can’t simply exist for their own sake. If the law is the law simply to be the law, then the law is utterly and completely pointless and should be done away with. The law exists to protect us, to guide us, and to make us better, not simply to hedge us in and control us.

P.S. Not-Sarah called me back. We’re going to get dinner and a movie on Wednesday.