Recently I was reminded of a beautiful poem/reflection my father wrote about his mother, my grandmother, entitled “Her Hands.” He read it at her funeral, and it was a wonderful testimony of the story her hands told – of her life, her hardships, and the love she offered, all through her hands. This poem inspired me to write my own reflection about Sarah’s hands – what they look like, what hands are used for, and the spiritual implications of looking different. Here is that reflection:
Her hands are tiny, not delicate, but small. When I first saw them, I couldn’t stop staring, because they looked unlike any other hands I had seen before. Baby hands – weren’t they supposed to have five tiny little fingers on each one? A finger to wrap around mind for comfort? But I was fascinated by hers – so unique – as I looked for each finger and nail. Were they all there? All I could see was a thumb and mitten.
As time goes by, I have come to love her hands. They are different, but they are beautiful. God constructed her hands, created them perfectly – though imperfectly. But what are “perfect hands,” anyway? What is a “perfect human?” As she grows and I get to know her more and more, I realize there is no perfect person, and yet we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Such an oxymoron – but it is society and our culture that tells us beauty is external. Beauty is more than the body; it is a reflection of one’s heart and soul. Just as humans see with the eyes, God does not look at appearance; He sees the heart of everyone. And every human life is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God doesn’t make mistakes.
So I see her hands each day, and I watch her explore the world using them. She looks at her hands. To her, they are perfect. In her eyes, her mind, her little body, there is no difference between her hands and mine. Why should I look at her any differently? I know as she grows up and has more surgeries, her hands will look different. Her fingers will be different shapes and sizes; some will have nails while others won’t. But, to me, her hands will always be beautiful.
The world will be cruel to her and may reject her, because she looks different, but to me – as to God – she is beautiful. She was created perfectly as she is. And no matter what the world tells her, I want her to always remember that she should never be ashamed of or apologize for who God created her to be.
Of what use are hands? What functions do they have? When I see her young, tender hands, I see their youth and innocence. They are – so far – unblemished, supple, and fair. They have not yet been weathered, cut, or bruised by life experience. Her hands – they are for loving, for learning, for exploring, for working. I will touch her hands softly and kiss them lovingly, even when her fingers are mangled. She will write with her hands, eat with her hands, pray with her hands, dress with her hands, heal with her hands.
Her hands remind me every day of what matters most – people’s hearts. They make me comfortable with people’s differences – beyond that, even – to love what is different about humanity, what is ugly even – or rejected, scorned and hated. They remind me that we all have scars and yet when we are real and share our wounds with others, yes we may be rejected by some, but there will be many more who will love the darkness about us, the things we wish we could hide from the world.
Sarah won’t have the option of hiding herself from the world; her physical differences will be displayed for all to see. In some ways, she may experience the “martyrdom of the heart” when she sees people’s stares or fear as they look at her. But I pray that, through the love of our family and God’s love, she’ll be able to walk through her life with confidence in who God made her to be, to walk with the light of Christ to shine through her smile and her eyes, so that people may begin to see beyond her hands or her head. I pray she will be a living witness to what matters most and that, through her life, others may come to remember that who people are at the core is far more important than what they look like or what they do, even what intelligence quotient they possess.
This is what her hands have taught me.