For all Her Hands Have Done

 

I got dressed up for a wedding last weekend.  I painted a bright pink on my nails, donned my pearls and heels, and even curled my hair.  It was a lovely spring wedding and we were able to reunite with old friends and celebrate a really beautiful couple.

It was an outdoor wedding and despite what the weather app had said, it was chillier than expected.  I sat down for the ceremony and snuggled in closely to Randall, crossing my legs and hands in attempt to keep as much warmth in my body as possible.

As the pastor prayed, I looked down at my hands turning purple under the clouds.  My skin was rough and in desperate need of moisture.  My pink nails were already chipped from whatever menial tasks I had done in the last 24 hours.  I had burns healing on both wrists from baking bread over a week before. Honestly, I was embarrassed at the sight of them.

I rarely paint my nails for fear that I’ll draw attention to what I’ve always felt are my “man hands.”  They’re big, rough, and scarred.  When I was the maid of honor and in charge of my brother-in-law’s wedding ring 15 years ago, I had to wear it on the tip of my pinky so it wouldn’t get stuck on my fat fingers.

Ugh and sigh… I don’t want to talk about this anymore… 

No. I do.

In honor of International Women’s Day today, someone posted the verses from Proverbs 31:10-31 describing a woman who wakes up early and stays up late working to provide for her family’s physical needs.  She is talented, wise, caring, confident, and selfless.  She makes her husband and children better people. These verses are written as a poem about a fictional wise woman.  It is not a back breaking command for women to strive to emulate. In fact, the only thing this passage commands is that men praise women for all they are.

“Honor her for all that her hands have done…”

-Proverbs 31:31

I sat in a room of women this morning, next to my own mother.  The woman in front of me had a bandaid on her translucent, aged hands.  I looked down at my mom’s hands who, at one point in my life, were more familiar to me than my own. How blessed are we to be able to use our hands to love others well?

My hands bear the proof of my love for my family and devotion to them. My hands are scarred from making their bread, dirty from playing with them, worn from cleaning up after them, strong from holding them up and so, so happy to bear these marks of love.

 

The Curse

I have not been able to put my thoughts on the Women’s March in writing yet.  I’ll get there but it is taking time.  In the meantime, I keep coming back to this piece I wrote years ago about Genesis 3:16-19 and my experience of being a woman…

It all seemed so exciting.
I prayed.
I practiced.
I waited.
The test was positive, I made the call.
He was dumbfounded but this is what we had been waiting for.

I was tired.
I was hungry yet nauseated.
Then it kicked.
Like the thrill of a first kiss
It did flips inside of me.

Suddenly, it was no longer an “it“ but a he.
I could not hide the smile on my face.
My growing belly contained a name, a human, a separate being.

Nine months I waited.
He grew.
I grew.
Stretch marks…
My body was bursting at the seams.

Then the day came.
It was time.
I was well prepared for this.
You are told to have a plan.
My plan included drugs.

I labored.
I felt pain.
My pain was relieved.
But in doing so, this stopped my labor.

The doctor pumped my body full of meds to try to move the process along.
It didn’t work.
The nurse stopped the flow of all medication to my veins.

Then I felt pain.
Like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

The curse.

I felt the pain, but in some odd way
I was thankful for it.
It was my action that resulted in a curse.
Experiencing it first hand made me feel like
In some way,
I was paying the price that
my
sins
incurred.

Hours later, the curse,
The pain
Was overshadowed
By the perfect being I held in my arms.
The miracle of birth, of life, of this boy.

My awareness of the curse did not last very long.
That time.

Still, every spring
I am reminded.

I plan and shop.
I till and weed.
I fill, and plant, and water, and feed.
Why do I not reap what I sow?

The sun beats down.
The weeds grow tall and numerous.
My hands are blistered.
My neck is browned.
The only thing that flourishes is poison on my land.

My miracle son comes inside at night
Filthy, from dirt and sweat, and heat.
His body is torn and bruised and the poison has found it’s way inside.
Bumps form, up and down his legs.
His arms.
His face.

And my fruit withers and dies.
The unripe growths that do form
Nourish the bugs, the deer, not my family.

There is no need for me to toil and sweat
In the dirt, with the weeds.
For I can purchase any and all food that
My heart would desire.

Still pulling the roots that run deep
Through my soil,
I feel as though I am experiencing the curse
And in some small way,
I am paying the price that
my
sins
incurred.

Even still I am aware every now and then
When I think about my future.
When I think about my gifts
Of this curse.

I’ve been told since childhood
That my dreams would be limited.

“And he will rule over you.”
Period.

The curse.

Still, I take my sentence.
Dutifully. Like a man…
With my hands in a fist as I experience this side of the curse
In some small way,
I feel that I am paying the price that
my
sins
incurred.

As I sit now and curse my nature
And curse this world
And curse this blasted curse
I am reminded that

An hour of pain,
A season of sweat,
And a lifetime of wanting more
Does NOT pay the price for what my sins have incurred.

My
Sins
Incurred
Death.

There is nothing I can do
To
Make
Things
Right.

Between me and the ground.
Between me and this world.
Between me and my God.

Because it was already done for me.
The price —
Death
has already been paid.

For me.