Updated: May 19, 2020
I have never really liked my hands. I have short, calloused fingers, wide palms, and messed up nail beds from a nail-biting stint when I was in grade school. Add to it the effect of knuckle-popping which I became obsessed with after I saw the cool kid on the block do it in second grade. But nonetheless, I’ve always referred to my hands as looking like “dog paws,” versus the long, graceful hands that my sister has and I always wanted. I’ve always thought I was in the wrong line when the babies were sprinkled with “beautiful hand fairy dust."
To add to my hand shame, since my 20s I’ve had the biggest, juiciest veins in my hands and forearms that have always been a phlebotomist’s dream come true, causing my hands to look a bit masculine and old if you ask me. When my kids were young they liked to sit by me during church and “play” with my veins to make the time pass more quickly. They would sometimes ask why my hands were “like that.” The standard mom answer applied here, “They just are Hun.” But I always liked it - having one of them holding and touching my hands, no matter where or when or why.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve done my part to win the anti-aging race with my body and face. Eating healthy, exercising, and spending far too much money taking care of my skin. And yet, when I look down at my keyboard countless times a day, I still see these hands that look much older than my heart feels, and appear as if they could use a nice rest.
When the photographer stopped me to pose for this photo at my wedding a few years ago to capture my sash and ring on the lace pattern of my dress, I automatically blurted out, “Can you edit the picture? I don’t like my hands.” Everyone has something they don’t fully embrace about themselves, don’t they?
But when the wedding photos came back I saw my hands in a whole new light. This picture is so beautiful, it captures everything. I saw the hands that had baked about 200 Birthday cakes, a truckload of cookies, changed thousands of diapers, wiped away a million crocodile tears, and clapped till they were raw cheering my kids on through every sport.
I saw this picture and I saw a gift. These hands may not be the smoothest, most graceful, longest, most feminine hands, but they are perfectly suited for God’s work that He’s laid out for me. These hands have been blessed with holding my newborn babies and grand-babies and holding the father of my children as he took his last breath – God’s perfect plan.
I will find a beautiful frame for this picture to remind myself constantly of the love and purpose and duty I have in this life, and to remind myself that I have my mother’s hands – her gift to me.
“Give your hands to serve and your hearts to love.” – Mother Teresa
Shelli Netko (c) 2017
Thank you Drey Johnson Photography