• Bethany Bell

Don't touch me (just during covid-19)


How many songs are written about touch? I dare say more than you or I could count in one sitting.


I was emailing a friend this week about various things relating to my book. Something she shared landed us both dwelling on the concept of touch. In my previous post I mentioned that I do not describe myself as a ‘touchy-feely’ person. However, I greatly value touch from those closest to me. Whether you’re a full on touchy-feely person or find yourself at the other end of the spectrum; healthy touch is something of great value that we all desire in our unique way.


Generally speaking, many people can go days without physical contact with a person, sometimes intentionally, but often, not so. Speaking specifically to my single friends, many live on their own and don’t come into contact with their family or close friends on a day to day basis. I have found this to be truer the older I get.


Nek minute...enter COVID-19.


COVID-19 has certainly made connecting with people unique and not without its challenges. Though there are many creative ways we can express love and connection, without physical contact, something is missing.


Did you know that from when we first enter the world, we crave healthy touch? Without it, there are long standing effects on physical and emotional development and our ability to thrive. Does this mean you’re in trouble in this season? No. There is no reason to be fearful. I do, however, want to acknowledge that this season may be extremely hard for many people, including those who are single and experiencing less physical connection than they are used to.


What can you do?


Great question. Part of me, to be honest doesn’t feel I have an answer to ease your situation or context entirely. I do have some thoughts I want to share with you to encourage you and help your perspective.


First, let me say if you are missing physical contact and connection - that is completely normal. You are not alone and are accompanied by many people around our world right now.


Second, never forget that God is a person, who has a presence. He clearly tells us that He will never leave nor forsake us. He can be felt and as our Creator He is best positioned to understand and meet our deepest needs.


Shane Willard describes God as “closer than the air I breathe”. In their song Abba, Jonathan David and Melissa Helser beautifully describe Him as “closer than the skin on my bones. You're closer than the song on my tongue.”

“You're closer than the skin on my bones. You're closer than the song on my tongue.”

Third, who is the person in your corner? Your closest person? While family offer a great expression for healthy touch, if you’re like me, and don’t live anywhere near family, you may need to identity those who are in your closest circle and keep building healthy relationships with them.

Identify something that your closest people could do in place of physical contact that will help to fill your love tank at this time. This week, make time to have a good heart to heart inviting them to be present in your life at this time and in turn, offer your care and contribution into their area of need. Identifying and communicating your needs is a healthy dynamic to build in all relationships. If you are unsure about articulating how you feel, starting a conversation with a close friend may be what helps you to identify your needs. Why not start with this?


Post COVID-19 bring on the shoulder massages, high fives, handshakes, hugs, tackles, sitting shoulder to shoulder and more.


Don’t look down on your desire for physical connection; it is not a weakness and is not to be despised or discouraged. Realise that God is present and focus on developing healthy emotional expression in your close relationships.


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