Sunday, December 18, 2011

Beautiful Hands

I have a thing about hands. Always have. I remember as a relatively young child making a comment to my Memaw about how soft and pretty her hands were. She chuckled and assured me that her old, worn, hard-working hands were anything but soft and pretty, but I remember disagreeing with her. My limited vocabulary most likely intended words more like "tender" or "gentle" and "noble" or "gracefully strong," but what made sense to me at the time was "soft" and "pretty." My Memaw on the other hand saw rough, unpampered hands that had worked hard for decades with extremely limited resources and zero luxuries. Memaw raised 6 children. She cooked, sewed, cleaned, gardened, and did everything else a family of 6 children and a husband required of her. And I can almost guarantee she never got a manicure or owned any expensive lotion. But still there was something about her hands. They held love, care, tenderness, a certain kind of beauty. To me, even as a young child, they were "pretty" even though they were probably not attractive by worldly standards.

I was reminded of this a few days ago when I was reaching for lotion after washing my 4th or 5th sink full of dishes on one of my "cook all day" kind of days. It occurred to me that my hands really aren't much to look at. They were feeling awfully rough and dry after the work I had been doing that day. And even when that isn't happening, they're chubby and stubby and scarred and bearing the consequences of washing dishes 3 times a day most days. You'll never see them pictured in a lotion ad or featured on a poster in a nail salon. But I'm ok with that, because I'm finding that when I think of beautiful hands these days, I'm much more drawn to the ones that evidence their work and service much like my Memaw's did. The story written in experienced hands inspires and encourages me far more richly than a pretty picture of a smooth, manicured hand ever will. Not that there's anything wrong with having model hands. :-D But mine are not. So I'm just hoping that maybe one day they will tell a beautiful story.

Young ladies, one day you will likely look down and realize your hands aren't so young anymore. When that happens, don't be sad. Remember with joy every dish you washed, every tear you wiped away, every diaper you changed, and every scar you created while preparing a meal for someone. This is why God gave us hands. To love and serve. Use them well for that purpose and be proud of what they accomplish and the story they tell. This is true beauty. And if they happen to be attractive too, well then that's just a bonus.

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