Monday, June 23, 2008

The Beauty of the Withered Hand

Here's the thing: I'm going to be transparent here because I'm hoping it may speak to someone who may presently be dealing with a similar type of inner battle.

I teach 3 and 4 year olds at our church. I truly love having this great privilege. I used to work with 3, 4, and 5 year olds as a teenager in VBS and some in Sunday School at the church I grew up in. These children are not ashamed or afraid to say just about anything. I will never forget one year at VBS, I was playing “kitchen” with a little girl, and I noticed her curious little eyes periodically wandering toward my hand (I have a very large scar covering my entire right hand because of slight birth complications.) Being forever self conscious about it, I made a point to use only my left hand while playing with her, and I think I even was trying to sit on my right hand! She did not take the hint. She finally fixed her sparkly eyes on my own and asked something like: “What's wrong with your hand?”

What's wrong with your hand?

This was always the question I got. It did more to me than just annoy me; it chiseled away at my self importance, my self worth. But only because I let it.

Instead of realizing that this piercing question was birthed from a tiny 4 year old, I let myself sink into offense. I think I told her I was born that way. That generally is my cop out when I don't feel like exposing my whole life story (which happens to be a great one!) If I were to say, “I had surgery when I was a baby,” then that would only lead to another question, which would lead to another, and another.

Fast forward about 10 years. Here I am teaching them again. But I've learned something.

Children this age are curious, inquisitive, easily amazed, trying to figure this whole thing out, and best of all—they are formative. Almost anything I say to them, they believe, wide eyed and full of awe. They ask those “hard” questions that no one else asks, but secretly wants to know.

What's wrong with your hand?

Why do you walk like that?

Did you know that you say you'll do something, but you never do it?

Why do you say “you know” in every sentence?

Did you know you're being selfish?

Jump back to the little girl's first question for a moment. I notice now as I replay this scenario in my mind, that the simple context of the question is HUGE.

What's wrong with your hand?

She was taking what her 4 years of wisdom concerning what people “should” look like told her, and comparing it with what she presently saw: something very different—something wrong. This did not make it anything but a hand, did it? Of course not. It just looked different. To her, it was not “perfect.” To me, it is not “perfect.” But simply put, it is still a hand. And it is my hand, nonetheless. It is my hand that happens to work quite well, I might add.

It has proven quite convenient with many activities I've engaged in throughout my life thus far: perfectly sinking a basketball through the net, clutching a bat and swinging it to whack that softball toward the outfield, moving its fingers to cover the holes on a clarinet and make some pretty good music (if I do say so myself), twirling a flag and sending it rocketing into the air only to be caught by that same hand. I could go on from writing to holding my get the point.

I treasure my hand simply because it is my hand. I don't need any other reason.

Now, take what I've just said and try to view it in respect to the body of Christ. There's the head, the neck, the shoulders, the arms, the HANDS, etc. These are all parts that work together to perform one purpose, whatever it may be.

Having one of these parts with a scar is better than not having it at all, right? I'd say so. For the first time, I am seeing the dilemma of the [ugly] hand as something beautiful. It is beautiful because:

1.God doesn't amputate. He mends and physically restores.
2.God sees fit to bring the low up high, and even the high down low.
3.We “imperfect” people can now be a part of something “perfect.”

I love to look through the Bible and see these imperfect people God chose to use to bring about His Will. Jesus' genealogy is bursting at the seams with losers, with the lame. These people give me hope. Just as my hand is a little less than perfect, so am I a LOT less than perfect. But that doesn't mean I must be cut off and thrown in the trash!

I can still use my hand.

God can still use me.

God can still use you.

Just because one part of the body doesn't look like we think it should look, doesn't mean it is not fulfilling its purpose. I've spent too much time asking, "What's wrong with _____" and not enough time asking, "How can I bring it to its greatest potential?"


<>< Cara


  1. You are amazing. Really. This post is quite profound. It reminds me of the countless people in my life who have begged the same question of me. How can I bring Fallon, Cara, Matt, anyone to their greatest potential? I think this goes right in line with the very question I ask God daily. I'm always asking what I need to change about me, rather than thanking Him for making me as I am.

  2. Thank you again for another blessing. Your writings always touch me in some way. You are truly gifted.

  3. I like this a lot; I find it very motivational.