On May 9, 2014, my appreciation for hands changed. Before that day, I hadn’t really given much thought to hands, other than the fact that everyone has them and they are pretty useful. I suppose I may have noticed when I saw really beautiful hands or really gnarled hands, but for the most part, hands are hands.
But the day my dominant right hand was nearly amputated, all that changed.
This post is not meant to discuss my accident. If you want to read more about that, you can buy my book here. Today, I want to talk about the significance of hands.
During the past five years, I’ve learned a lot about hands. I’ve come to believe that they may be the most important part of our body. For just a minute, think about all of the things you’ve already done with your hands today. Maybe you pushed yourself out of bed with your hands, then undressed with your hands and pulled open the shower curtain with your hands before stepping into the shower and using your hands to wash your hair and lather your body with soap. If you shaved, you used your hands, and you toweled yourself off with your hands, after which you got dressed, combed and styled your hair, applied make-up, brushed and flossed your teeth–and that was all before your left you actually accomplished anything.
You may have prepared breakfast for yourself or your family. And if you have children, you probably used your hands to help them get ready for their day. As a mother, you may have changed diapers, applied bandaids, given hugs, packed lunches, signed forms, and waved goodbye as your children headed out the door. Those activities wouldn’t have been the same without your hands. Just think about it–on a typical day, your hands have already been very busy by 8:00 am.
And it doesn’t end there.
Your hands will stay busy all day long, cleaning, comforting, and communicating. They will write, type and touch, all the time conveying your wants, your needs, and your feelings. Your hands will work hard at whatever happens to be your profession. And your hands will create. They will constantly create. Whether gentle or powerful, strong or meek, our hands help define us. They are amazing instruments.
I learned the hard way how important it is to protect your hands. Imagine, if you will, trying to accomplish all of those activities, and myriads of others that I didn’t mention, with an injured hand. Some of them are impossible to do on your own, while others simply take longer than usual. Patience, humility, long-suffering, and determination are all qualities I have been forced to acquire in order to survive. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times during the past five years that I have lamented the fact that I didn’t appreciate my hand while it was whole. I wish I could go back in time and take greater precautions to protect it. I’ve had lots of conversations with my hands, encouraging my left hand as it has struggled to take on all of the responsibilities of my dominant hand, and begging my right hand to heal and perform. My hands and I have become pretty close during this ordeal.
Because I’ve become so aware of my hands, I look at them often. I have to be honest and tell you that it’s really hard for me to see my right hand. It saddens me to know that it will never look the same as it did before–and it will never perform the same, either. My hand is a constant reminder of all I have lost. And yet, because I use my hands for hundreds of acts each day, it is impossible to avoid seeing it.
Although my surgeon is amazing and has done his best to repair the damage that was done, there will always be scars and I will always have physical limitations and visual reminders of the day that I nearly lost my hand. It’s difficult. And yet, it also reminds me of another pair of broken hands.
These hands were used to create worlds without number. They were powerful enough to form mountains and hills, but gentle enough to comfort and bless children. They healed lepers, called back the dead, and gave sight to the blind. They were constantly serving, feeding the hungry, breaking bread for five thousand, and washing the feet of friends. These hands were selfless, ever concerned for the well-being of others, delivering peace to whomever they touched.
But then these hands, will all their power and might, submitted to the will of their Father by clasping themselves together in agony and bleeding from every pore. They were betrayed and bound, then forced to carry the very beam to which they would be nailed. They were tortured and torn, trembling as they waited for their Master, the Savior and Redeemer of the world, to declare, “It is finished.”
If I were the owner of those hands, that is a day I would want to forget.
But our Lord and Savior has not forgotten. In fact, Isaiah declared that we are “graven…upon the palms” of His hands (Isaiah 49:15-16).
Since becoming aware of how often I use and look at my hands, I can’t think of a more significant statement than this one in expressing His love for each of us. The Savior, in His perfect, resurrected body, chose to keep the scars on His hands to represent the sacrifice He made. Certainly, these hands, these mighty yet gentle hands that bear the scars of His crucifixion would be recognized by each one of us. But perhaps more significant is the reminder to Himself of the day on which those scars were received. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, lives every moment with a constant visual reminder of us. Each time He serves, each time He reaches out, each time He glances at His hands, He is reminded of you and me and the price He paid that we might be saved.
As “I think of His hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt” (I Stand All Amazed by Charles H. Gabriel), I am grateful that He has chosen to remember. Because of the sacrifice made in part by His hands, my hand will someday be made whole again. But not my hand only, my entire body and soul is perfected through Him. He made that healing possible through the mercy and grace of His atoning sacrifice, so that no matter what trials I face, I can rest assured that I will never be left alone, for he has “graven [me] upon the palms of [His] hands.”
Today, I am grateful to know that He lives, He loves me, and that He is always there, remembering, reaching, lifting, and strengthening me if I will but take His hand.
To purchase my book, SEVERED: A Memoir of Hope and Healing, click here…