Thursday, October 6, 2011

Soulful Hands

I have awful looking hands.  The skin looks so dry and dehydrated, cuticles cracked and the skin surrounding my nails peeling.  I try to maintain the shape of my nails but I don’t always succeed.  Let it be said, (and this may come as a total shock to most of you), that I have never had a manicure and pedicure done ever.  ‘Self-service’ doesn’t count, does it? 

No, I don’t live outside of civilization, if that’s what you’re wondering about.  It’s just that I think it’s not a necessity, nor a luxury I can’t do without.  It’s one of those expenses I simply can’t justify especially since I know the results can be so fleeting.  I know my nails could look gorgeous after going for the service.  However, can that sublime effect really last given that I’m constantly washing my hands, washing dishes, sanitizing my 4-year old and then wait for everything to be dirty to be cleaned up again?  It’s one of those things I know I can do myself and one thing I would rather stay practical about.

Image by: Mart

They say you can tell a lot by a person’s hands.  I’ve always felt my hands were alright.  They’re far from gorgeous and like I said, they’re dry and peeling in some areas, but I’ve never been self-conscious about them.  Until….one day a couple of years ago, I was walking in the mall, pushing the stroller with Noah in it, and this salesman, selling beauty products, particularly lotions, I assumed, stopped me, and immediately zoomed in on my hands.  Then with such a tone of horror in his voice, he made it known to me how horrible my hands looked and that I absolutely needed some serious moisturizing.  Granted he was out to sell me something and that I need not take him too seriously, the point is that I’ve never felt so bad about my hands until that moment. 

I didn’t want to waste my energy arguing with him, defending my lifestyle choices considering he was a nobody in my life.  Nevertheless, I still thought it was one of the meanest things ever said to me, not to mention unjust.  Who was he, judging my hands that way? hardworking hands…these hands that care for a child and husband…these hands that run a household…hands that love and teach and comfort.  Those that truly know what these hands can do have no ill judgment towards them, but feel full acceptance and even reverence.      

Despite the less-than-ideal appearance of my hands, they are mine and have done so much for me and those I love.  Whether your hands spend their days caring for your children, or a sick family member, aging parents, teaching other children, defending the country, creating art, healing others or doing any kind of work to support you and your family…love them, and know that they are beautiful and precious.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


  1. I have had a run in with those guys in the mall, so I know what you felt! People often say I look too young for 7 children and then they see my hands and say oh! But as you stated these hands change the world :)

  2. This post is beautiful.  It reminds me of this song:  is hands
    tools of creation
    stronger than nations
    power without end
    and yet through them we find our truest friend
    his hands
    sermons of kindness
    healing men's blindness
    halting years of pain
    children waiting to be held again

    his hands would serve his whole life though
    showing man what hands might do
    giving, ever giving, endlessly
    each day was filled with selflessness
    and i'll not rest until i make up my hands what they could be
    'til these hands become like those from galilee

    his hands
    lifting a leper
    warming a beggar
    calling back the dead
    breaking bread, five thousand fed
    his hands
    hushing contention
    pointing to heaven
    ever free of sin
    then bidding man to follow him

    his hands would serve his whole life though
    showing man what hands might do
    giving, ever giving, endlessly
    each day was filled with selflessness
    and i'll not rest until i make up my hands what they could be
    'til these hands become like those from galilee

    his hands
    clasped in agony
    as he he lay pleading, bleeding in the garden
    while just moments away
    other hands betray him
    out of greed, shameful greed
    and then his hands
    are trembling
    straining to carry the beam that they've been led to
    as he stumbles through the streets
    heading towards the hill on which he died
    he would die
    they take his hands, his mighty hands, those gentle hands
    and then they pierce them, they pierce them
    he lets them, because of love
    from birth to death was selflessness
    and clearly now i see him with his hands
    calling to me
    and though i'm not yet as i would be
    he has shown me how i could be
    i will make my hands like those from galilee 

  3. Ah Joy my hands are like that too - although I havnt raised kids! I'm rough, at times careless with my hands. I occasionally chew my nails still from anxiety, I try to remember to use moisturizer - but remember once a month (even though it sits on my bedside table). I've had a manicure once and it was pointless as they were disgusted in my unkempt nails. I joke and say I have man hands - I'm not a petite Girly girl and the smell of those manicure places (just walking by) makes me almost faint!

  4. I absolutely hate those people in the mall!  I go out of my way to avoid them.  I also have dry, peeling, flaky, hands due to my profession as a nurse.  Sometimes I see other women with office careers with perfect nails and skin and I am jealous, but not for very long.  Being a nurse is more rewarding than having beautiful hands.

  5. A wonderful post -- once again. You are SO creative.

    " hardworking hands…these hands that care for a child and husband…these hands that run a household…hands that love and teach and comfort." Very creative thinking and beautifully expressed.

    "What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like." - St. Augustine

  6. Lovely message from St. Augustine. Thank you for sharing, Mike B!

  7. Joy,

    I bet you have magic hands. Their looks may be unappealing to you, but I bet those who love you see something else.

    I thought of this as I re-read part of this post this morning (this is something your husband might be thinking):

    Oh, to be touched by your magic hands.
    You say they look dehydrated, yet they are moist with affection.
    Your say they look dry, yet they drip with tenderness.
    What they lack in appearance, they make up for in caring.

    Your hands --
    The hands that caress my face,
    The hands that rest gently and lovingly upon my chest,
    The hands that dry my tears,
    The hands I love to hold --
    Are an extension of your soul.

    Your hands --
    The hands that held our son at birth,
    The hands that washed him as a babe,
    The hands that soothe our darling's pain,
    The hands that have raised our boy so well --
    Are an extension of your heart.

    These magic hands are yours and yours alone,
    By far the loveliest that I have known.

    An aside from me: Hands like that do not need a makeover. But maybe one day, just for kicks, you will treat yourself to a manicure.

  8. P.S. This is NOT the longer poem that I said (in another comment) that I was working on. This one just kind of sprung forth, albeit slowly, this morning. The longer one is still germinating in my mind.

  9. Possibly the lotion salesperson had never heard of the adage, "You can attract more flies with honey than vinegar." But then again, since you're not a fly, nothing he might've said would've been relevant! Atta girl, you had the right mindset about his non-importance in your life.

    I've wondered about the indulgence lavished on hands. Particularly, fake nails. Are they fooling anyone?

    The practical me shudders at the expenditure of keeping it up. I know a business owner who keeps her fill-in appointments religiously, despite being an astounding amount in debt. Arrggggh.

  10. Thanks for your encouraging comment, Marie/Scrollwork! As for that person you know, I can't understand that either. I have been trying to convince myself to just try and go for a mani/pedi but I just can't justify it enough in my brain. It's really too fleeting and I know I will just kick myself if I see a chip or any imperfection...which is bound to happen 24hrs after the service. *sigh*


Let me know your thoughts!