grateful amazement

finding wonder…everywhere.

RELAX :: a blog series :: two

on December 8, 2015

relax embrace
{Every Tuesday this month, we’re meeting here to pull apart the word RELAX. To lean into it. To learn ways we can practice it in a very real way. And what better time than the hectic holidays to get some rubber-meets-the-road experience with it?! I’m glad you’re here…it’s so much better to work through things like this in the company of kindreds like you. This week, we’ll look at the EEMBRACE.}

A few hours after last week’s post published, I came across The Perfect Quote in relation to it, and decided I just HAD to share it with you before we move on to talking about the E in RELAX.

‘Abundance is a process of letting go; that which is empty can receive.’ ~Bryant H McGill

Isn’t that awesome? I mean, who doesn’t want to live an abundant life?

And since we’ve spent the week practicing RELEASing and letting go, we’re all ready to receive – to EMBRACE – right? *wink

Really, though, I hope that this past week found you practicing some new level of RELEASing and a different awareness of RELAXing.

As they say, awareness is the first step toward change. So Yay You!

This week, we’re going to talk about how we can now EMBRACE the things in our lives because we’ve gotten brave and RELEASEd what was weighing us down. defines EMBRACE this way: to take or clasp in the arms; press to the bosom; hug, to take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly; to encircle; surround; enclose

With those ideas in mind, think about this…
How easy is it for you to EMBRACE whatever is going on around and inside of you?
To take, to clasp, to press, to hug?
To receive gladly, eagerly, willingly?

Let’s be honest.

If we’re talking about the good things – happy things like good jobs, nice belongings, cuddly babies, prayers answered in the way you’d hoped – the EMBRACing is easy.
But what about the not-so-good things?
The ones that are too hot to touch. Too sharp to clasp. Too lumpy to hug?
And the ones that rip any gladness and eagerness and willingness right out of our hearts and minds?
I know from experience that those things – those hard, pointy, bumpity things – are the very last things any one of us feels ready to EMBRACE.

Some time after I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer in 2010, I had a conversation with my pastor about EMBRACing change. It went something like this:

Me: I think it’s possible to embrace change even when it seems negative.
Him: Hmmm. I’m not sure I know what you mean.
Me: That cancer I was diagnosed with? I would have never chosen that, but when I practiced EMBRACing the change it brought – the good, the bad, and the ugly (and believe me, there was some Real Ugly up in there) – I was open to finding and seeing the proverbial Silver Lining in it.

Friends, having cancer sucked. There is no way to sugarcoat it. I wouldn’t want to even try.
But, seriously, there were so. many. gifts. hidden in the grit.
And I would have missed them if I had kept my fists clenched in the face of it.
If I wouldn’t have been open to EMBRACing all of it.

As I thought about this part of the acrostic God whispered to me – this EMBRACing – the idea of hugging came to mind. In fact, ‘hug’ comes up as one of the first synonyms when you plug EMBRACE into the search field at

It turns out that there’s been lots and lots of research done on the positive effects of hugging. Here are just a few things I found in a quick online search:

~~Hugging creates feelings of security, reassures us, and alleviates stress responses to the Everyday Hard that life sometimes hands us.
~~Hugging generates positive feelings like attachment, connection, trust, and intimacy. And when we experience those feelings, we tend to feel as though we are participating fully in life.
~~Hugging offers us physical health benefits, too. It lowers the heart rate and blood pressure as well as positively affecting the body’s release of cortisol, one of the stress hormones.

~~Hugging makes us feel good due to the release of oxytocin that occurs when we wrap our arms around someone. When oxytocin hits our systems, it promotes devotion, trust, and bonding.
~~Hugging alleviates fears, especially existential ones, by instilling in us a sense of significance.

~~Hugging enhances our relationships by stimulating the release of serotonin and dopamine in addition to the oxytocin we’ve already talked about, and those two neurotransmitters go a long way in deepening our feelings of connection.
~~Hugging eases depression and the feeling of tiredness that plagues so many of us in this fast-paced world.

Now, go back through that list (which is by no means exhaustive) and switch out the word *hugging* with the word EMBRACing.
And then take it one step further and imagine that what is being EMBRACEd is your life.
All of it.
In all of its gory glory.

I think there’s a good chance we experience benefits similar to the hugging ones when we EMBRACE All The Things.
The beautiful and the brutal. says that the word EMBRACE is found 17 times in Scripture.
~~Jacob and Esau, despite their rocky and conflict-filled relationship history, eventually reconcile and EMBRACE.
~~Joseph, who was betrayed and sold by his brothers, turned around and EMBRACEd those same men. (Full disclosure – the EMBRACE came after Joseph set them up, put them in prison, and sent them away…he was only human, after all!)
~~The Israelites were often found EMBRACing other gods. (That says to me that I need to check myself before I wrap my arms around just any old thing, you know?)
~~And, in Proverbs, we are instructed and encouraged again and again to EMBRACE things like Wisdom and Justice.

Judging by this short list, it seems safe to say that the Bible shows us a variety of situations and circumstances to EMBRACE in life.

This week, as we move one step closer to that more soul-full, more RELAXed life each of us yearns for, let’s bravely and boldly EMBRACE this amazing, crazy, thrilling, sometimes even snoozy ride.
And listen, if *bravely and boldly* feels a bit too much just now, do it fearfully and hesitantly.
Because, honestly, it’s a practice and any kind of progress is meaningful and significant.

Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but EMBRACE it. ~Kevyn Aucoin



One response to “RELAX :: a blog series :: two

  1. […] how we looked at what it means to RELEASE so that we can EMBRACE while we LAUGH at ourselves and ADJUST to this crazy thing called Life in order to breathe deep and […]

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