I recently read a story about a woman in a nursing home who had very few visitors and was alone most of the time. One day, in an effort to be kind, one of the staff people went to her room and offered to give the older woman a manicure. The resident was grateful for the time to speak with someone and her face lit up when they started to have their talk.
When it came time to apply nail polish, the elderly woman chose a clear finish. When asked why, she said that her hands were old, weatherbeaten, crippled by arthritis and applying a colored polish would draw attention to her hands. Of course, she considered her hands “ugly” and she appreciated the manicure but was concerned about the attention she would attract.
The staffer stopped and reminded the woman of all the things that those hands had experienced during life. And all the places the woman had been. Her hands were symbols of all that she had done, people that she had hugged and the life that she had lived. In other words, her hands were there to be celebrated – not hidden from view. After considering all that she had just heard, the elderly woman had a one word response – “Pink!” What a great story about how to look at our lives from a different perspective. I was touched…
I really thought this was one of the best articles that I have read in some time. Perhaps it hit home because Janet and I have both dealt with infirmities that have made life a little tougher as we get older. I scar easily and have always been self conscious about my legs. Thousands of mosquito bite scars as well as auto immune issues with hives and my skin have left me a mess – and I almost forgot the massive scar where I ruptured a tendon above my knee that had to be surgically repaired. Those of you who know me well will remember that I rarely wear shorts – even in the heat of summer. And I tend to wear long sleeve shirts as well – unless I am unusually casual or in the presence of close friends.
Janet suffers from arthritis and it has definitely taken its toll on her hands. She has lost some strength and it is getting more difficult for her to do the things that she used to take for granted when we were younger – such as opening a jar or rolling up a pair of socks – and I have to be very careful when I reach out to hold her hand these days so as to not hurt her.
Yet in the next moment, I remember the places around the world where I have held her hand – while cruising down the River Seine in Paris, having a soft drink looking out at the sea in Mykonos, Greece, – or wondering how the Vikings travelled as we looked across the Orkney Islands on the northern coast of Great Britain. Closer to home, she has held each of our grandsons in those hands – three of the four within hours of their births. Or how about when I slipped a wedding ring on her finger more than 48 years ago when we exchanged our vows and started our married lives together…
There were the times that those hands provided unspeakable kindness to me when I could barely move after a horrible leg injury. And even memories at our beloved Greenbrier, when she had a falcon land on her arm or when she went fly fishing for the first time last spring.
My legs have carried me on thousands of sales calls trying to earn a living when we were first married. And they have held me up at the front of numerous venues as I have conducted hundreds of wedding ceremonies for couples who have asked me to marry them. And they didn’t let me down when I dragged Janet into the house, unconscious, from the garage after she fell, shattered her shoulder and passed out on the floor.
We have been through an incredible adventure together. We have learned to depend on each other to help us with our weaknesses and relied on each other’s strengths when we needed to get something done. But God knew all this from before we were even born. Tonight’s verse comes from one of my favorite psalms. The 139th Psalm tells us about God’s omnipresence, how He knows us better than anyone and even how He created us. The psalmist tells us, in Psalm 139:15-16, “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
My encouragement tonight is that God created each of us exactly as He wanted us to be, infirmities and all. My prayer is that we should all celebrate who we are – who God made us to be – and to revel in His creation, living life to the fullest and remembering all the places and things that our earthly bodies have experienced. After all, our arms, legs and hands carry the unique story of our lives. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…