This morning, I was working on my novel (Penelope’s Surrender), and my three-year-old G woke up. I paused my work to get his breakfast, then resumed working while he ate. We were chatting a bit, and in the course of this, he turned to me and said, “Mama, your hands are ugly.”
Now, anyone who knows G well knows that occasionally, he will say unkind things to elicit a reaction. This time, he didn’t use that tone. He simply said it in a calm, matter-of-fact voice.
“Mama, your hands are ugly.”
How would you react?
Well, at first I wanted to say, “G, that’s not kind. Please don’t say things like that to Mommy.”
And I did, eventually, for the sake of instructing him in how to speak words to build up, and not tear down. But that’s an entirely different devotional direction.
I just asked what he meant (turns out, he only meant my left hand), and what he thought made it ugly (only when I spread my fingers wide).
And this isn’t about discussing with a person who says something hurtful before deciding they just don’t like you. But it could be.
It’s about our hands. And how we use them. And whether that makes them ugly or beautiful.
Are your hands dry this winter season? Mine are. I haven’t been taking care of them as I should if I want them to be soft and smooth. Does that make my hands ugly? Or your hands? Is it bad to have well-cared-for hands? No. On all counts.
What is your motivation?
Are your hands soft and smooth because you care for them but neglect other things for which you are called to care? Or are they rough because you are caring for everyone and everything else, but neglecting yourself?
I find sometimes that my hands can be a good indicator of the state of my well-being. When my cuticles and hangnails are chewed, ragged and un-cared-for, I’m usually worrying about something. They aren’t too bad right now, but could be better.
When my skin is dry, it’s because I’m neglecting my own care.
Not gonna lie, my skin is pretty dry right now. It isn’t cracking and bleeding, but if I go on without any moisturizing, it will be soon.
But more than anything, my hands are working for my family.
Working, caring, instructing, and loving. They are getting it done, maybe a bit worse for the wear, but beautiful in this service.
How are your hands?
Probably better than you think. Your hands, my hands, have been cleansed with Christ’s blood, the same as the rest of us. We are free to move forward in lives of love and service to one another and to the world. We are working for God’s kingdom and for those who are lost to be brought to His side.
His hands were pierced for us, and ours rise to give thanks, lower to extend mercy to the downtrodden, and reach out to meet others where they are. He uses our hands as His own to do these things, and to serve His people.
So next time you wash your hands, or use some lotion, or hold someone else’s hand, remember that they are not merely your hands, but God’s instruments to care for the world around you.