On May 9, 2014, my appreciation for hands changed. Before that day, I hadn’t really given much thought to hands. I mean, everyone has them and they are pretty useful, right? I suppose I may have noticed when I saw really pretty 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.
I’m not here to talk about the accident. If you want to read about it, you can do so here. Today, I want to talk about hands.
The past 9 months have taught me a lot about the significance of our hands. I have come to believe that they just might be the most important part of our body. For just a minute, think about all of the things you’ve done with your hands today. You probably got up this morning and used your hands to shower. While you were showering, you washed your hair with your hands, lathered the soap with your hands and shaved with your hands. When you got out of the shower, you probably toweled yourself off and got dressed, not even thinking about the fact that your hands did all the work. After brushing your teeth, you may have put on make-up, combed your hair, pulled it up into a ponytail or used a curling iron, all of these activities made possible by your hands. You prepared breakfast and fed yourself, and if you have children, you probably helped them get ready for their day, making lunches, packing backpacks, signing forms and waving goodbye before sending them out the door. Those activities just wouldn’t have been the same without hands. Think about it, by 8:00 am, your hands have already been very busy!
But 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 to define us. They are pretty 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 were not mentioned, 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 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 have 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. My hands and me have become pretty close these past few months!
Because I have become so aware of my hands, I look at them often. I have to be honest and say that it is very 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 most likely, will never perform the same, either. My hand is a constant reminder of all that 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 doctor is amazing and doing his very best to repair the damage that was done, there will always be scars and as long as I live on this earth, I will have physical limitations and visual reminders of the day that I nearly lost my hand. I look forward to the day that, as a resurrected being, my hand will be perfect again.
When I think of hands, I can’t help but think 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 the 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, with all of 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. As a matter of fact, the prophet Isaiah records Him as saying this:
“Can a woman forget her sucking child…?…Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my 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. We know from the biblical records kept by His apostles that He used these scars as identifying marks when He appeared to them after His death. “Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself…” (Luke 24:28-29, italics added). 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 even 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”, LDS Hymn #193), 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 will be perfected through Him. He made that healing possible through the mercy and grace of the atonement. No matter the challenges, 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.” As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has said, “Considering the incomprehensible cost of the crucifixion and the atonement,…He is not going to turn His back on us now.” 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.
Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/McGil
The hand might look like an X-ray from the doctor’s office, but it is actually a cloud of material ejected from a star that exploded. NASA’s NuSTAR spacecraft has imaged the structure in high-energy X-rays for the first time, shown in blue. Lower-energy X-ray light previously detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is shown in green and red.