I have dog named Ranger who loves to give hugs. He has been giving hugs to people since he was a puppy. On occasion, I have brought Ranger to my offices to act as a therapy dog. He loves it. He gets to hug numerous people and some of my clients have gotten to experience their very first dog hug. It is fun to see them experience their first hug and when they are done with their session, they want more. Why do they want more? Because the love is given freely and without conditions. 

I think about my dog’s interactions with people each time I bring him home and I think about how we all crave love. We have an inborn need that has been hardwired into us that needs to feel love. So what do we do with that inborn need when those around us do not give love freely. When love comes with conditions or not at all? It is a loss when people do not know how to love us or do not know how to give love freely. Loss stirs so many unhealthy coping mechanisms to the surface . We do not wish to feel loss so we do all sorts of things to help us not feel that loss. We keep our minds occupied with tasks, the internet, TV, reading, food and alcohol to keep ourselves from feeling loss. We “busy our brain” to avoid the loss and ashes the loss has created. God promises to exchange our ashes for beauty, but rarely do we give him the ashes. Most of the time we busy ourselves with things that will distract us from the ashes of loss. It is time to stop our unhealthy coping mechanisms and take those ashes to God in prayer. It’s time to trade in the ashes of loss for the beauty that comes from God’s love.

Write a short journal entry to God today asking him to trade in these losses for beauty and write about how you need to learn to receive love in healthy ways from people around you and from him.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me. To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion–to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit–that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1a,3 Amplified)