The Forbidden Hug

There are many things here that I have fully adjusted to like eating spicy food, washing my clothes and dishes by hand, greeting people with a ‘wai’ instead of a handshake, eating with only a fork and a spoon, driving on the left side of the road and many many more things.

hug elephant 1Yet there is one thing I miss, hugs. They really do not hug here, and if they do it is only a side hug thing, for a few seconds and only between the same sex (ie. a girl hugging a girl). I can never hug a guy in public in Thailand. It goes against all of its culture. It is seen as the equivalent as having sex in public. The only public display of affection between a man and a woman that is ok in public is handholding. No back rubs, kissing, or hugging.

This past week was rough. I wasn’t sleeping (which I know adds to the high emotion and as a result my patience was running thinner than normal). Here’s a snit bit of what happened:

  • I was pulled over 3 times in 2 days by the ‘bad’ police. They only pull tourists over and expect to be paid a bribe. You have to have 2 things here to get out of a ticket: a helmet on and a valid driver’s license. I have both. Yet on the 3rd time, I was forced to pay. I was running late to a meeting, otherwise I would have gone to the police station to respectfully battle it out. So I paid. Because I am white, I have to pay.
  • My computer and printer were having ALOT of issues at work. It wasn’t displaying the Thai letters correctly and we had a fast approaching deadline. I spent more time in this past week trying to fix the printer, only to find out it was a computer issue. It was a long, complicated and frustrating process, but it finally started to work as it should. I can now type and print in Thai accurately! ขอบคุณพระเจ้า
  • On my way to by paper for project I’m working on, I managed to get tripped up on some wire while crossing a fence and scrape my hand, wrist, and leg up.
  • The straw that broke the camel’s back was a simple miscommunication. My boss was out of town and I was asked to meet with a few people. I agreed, yet they never set a time. I stayed around all day, yet they showed up 1 hour after I left (of course). So we postponed it for the next day, again they didn’t tell me a time, and was here super super early. I had to leave my Thai class to meet with them, and then return to Thai class once they were gone.

In retrospect, I know these were not a big deal. Yet, I was at the end of my rope and ready to cry at any moment. Right before I met with the people, I asked my male coworker to talk upstairs. I quickly vented. He then looked out the window (I thought that was weird) and then he gave me a hug. It wasn’t very long (we were doing an illegal hug here), but it was a real hug.

This is why we serve together and have community. Yes there are many days where they drive you crazy, yet we are family. We are a family, the body of Christ. We need to stick together to accomplish the goals He has set before us. We can do it with each other.

Also, I encourage you to encourage another. Love them. Be bold and go out on a limb. Be crazy creative to love everyone around you. It doesn’t matter if they are Christian or not. Go and love, risk the limits to love well, even if it means a forbidden hug!


Comment below if you went out and boldly love someone in a new way! How did it feel? Was it hard?

Do you remember a time when you were loved well? What did they do?  Share your experience(s) below!


Like this post: read how ‘God is a hug’ from a previous post of mine.


About lizolson

I love people, culture and languages! I have served in Thailand for 5.5 years helping to empower women and children who are at risk of being trafficked or who are working in the sex industry. Everyone deserves a second chance....
This entry was posted in Chiang Mai, My Journey, Thailand and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The Forbidden Hug

  1. Steven Buffington says:

    Hey Liz! I’de give you a hug if i was over there! Miss y’all and I hope for better days in the future! Keep up the good fight. 🙂

    • lizolson says:

      Thanks Steve! That means a lot! We miss you and your team here. I was recently talking about you and your team and how well you invested into the kids and families in the slum. Only one other team has really loved them like you guys did! Thanks for loving well and for your encouragement!

  2. Sylvia Peterson says:

    Oh, precious Liz… I wish I could open my arms and hug you so tight, then give you a big forehead kiss ;-). I am so sorry for such a crazy week for you, but what you gained from it and your story to all of us out of it is so inspirational. You challenge me (and others) to step out of our comforts & norms to be the hands and feet of Christ. You shine His light so brightly that it can’t be ignored! Thank you for being such a blessing in my life. I love you, miss you and lift you up in prayer to the Father. INFINITE HUGS AND KISSES to you, Miss Liz,
    ~Sylvia ❤

    • lizolson says:

      Ahhh forehead kisses and hugs….sound perfect! Thank you for loving and supporting me through it all! I miss you guys so much! The other day I heard someone playing the game that makes me blush, but your family plays proudly and it made me think of you all and smile.

      Keep your door open for those in need. You have adopted so many into a home of love, that is inspirational in itself.

  3. Alex Reiley says:

    I agree with Sylvia. Your ability to persevere through trials and then share them with us to encourage and inspire us is truly amazing and a testimony to the good work God is doing in you and through you. I’m sending you a hug right now with a little rocking side to side…. 🙂 Love you!!
    Thank you for the post card and PLEASE let me know if there is anything you need. I mean it little lady…. !!!!

    • lizolson says:

      Awww thanks Alex! I like the added touch of rocking side to side!

      I promise to let you know of I need anything.

      Thank you for all of your support and encouragement!

  4. Jacci says:

    Awesome story and sending a hug!

  5. tess savage says:

    hugs to you!


  6. Janice Atkin says:

    Sweet Liz, I hope your scrapes are healed!!!!!!!!! I am a hugger and will send my hugs at church to you via the Holy Spirit. I will pray with each hug I give that you will feel His love with His arms wrapped around you. You truly are a committed faithful Christian and I know you bring much pleasure to our Precious God!!!!! Lots of love and hugs to you.

  7. Alys Seay says:

    I LOVE this Liz. I hope to see you again in Thailand:). I’ll give you a hug too:)

  8. Katie says:

    Ahahaha thus explains why I experience a very awkward hug with our “grandma” fruit lady, she went for a suede hug while I went in for a front hug… You have enlightened me oh wise one! And I’ll give you a big hug in one week!

  9. CrazyGuyinThailand says:


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