The depth of a man’s love and care doesn’t always show up in the palms of his hands.
Scrolling through Facebook the other day I saw a meme that made me stop and think. The text read:
I work daylight to dark. Bust my knuckles, my back, and my butt. I hurt all day every day and take it to the max every second. When I feel like giving up, I just think about my wife and think about how this work is helping our household. There’s not a more important person in my life than her.
My hands look like this, so hers can look like that.
Under the text were two pictures, on the left a man’s hand, grime embedded in the palm and along the fingers, nearly obscuring the band on the third finger. The lines in the hand showed lighter against the stains. On the right a soft, white hand is splayed wide, the double silver bands bright against the skin.
I have thought about it a lot since. I’ve looked at it from all angles, rolled it over in my mind, and turned it every which way but loose. It has bounced around in my consciousness more times than I can count. I have thought long and hard about the message it represents. And I came to this conclusion:
The message is wrong.
My Daddy’s hands look like those pictured in the meme. In fact, his look much worse. His hands have nailed flooring and hung sheet rock. His hands have changed flat tires and painted cars. His hands pulled a complete engine and set a new one with little or no help in four short days because his daughter (me) needed a vehicle. His hands have been bruised, cracked, and bleeding. They have calloused and hardened over days turned to weeks turned to years of hard work. He’s put his hands through a lot during his lifetime and it shows.
And I couldn’t be prouder of him.
My husband’s hands, however, do not look like those pictured. They are not like my Daddy’s hands at all.
They don’t ache with arthritis or have trouble gripping tools. Yet, he has nailed flooring, hung sheet rock, and changed flat tires, too, just not as often as my Dad. His hands are not calloused and hardened. They are not oily and greasy. But every day, he does the same thing for me the gentleman in the meme does for his love. He works.
Instead of busting his knuckles, he glares at a computer screen. Instead of turning wrenches, he inputs information and answers questions. Instead of breaking his back, he breaks his heart for patients to ensure he is giving the best care he can possibly give.
And I couldn’t be prouder of him.
To see their hands side by side, however, you’d never know they do the same work. But they do. Both of these men in my life, my husband and my Daddy, have worked hard to give me what I need. They both put food on the table. They both put gas in the car. They both keep a roof overhead and a floor beneath my feet. And both have shaped my world, daily building into my dreams and carrying away my sorrows with their working hands. But you wouldn’t know that just by looking.
You wouldn’t know a lot of things just by looking.
You wouldn’t know my Daddy gingerly practiced giving injections on an orange so he could give them to my Mother without causing her any more pain than he had to. You wouldn’t know that those dirty hands were scrubbed in the bathroom four times a day with antibacterial soap so he could assist her with the dialysis she needed to keep her alive. And you wouldn’t see him take my hand in his when the pain of losing her was too much for me to bear.
Just by looking, you’d never know the countless number of hours my husband’s hands spent working on the house before our son was born. You wouldn’t know of the study guides he’s stayed up all night making when he was in pharmacy school so he could make a better life for his family. You wouldn’t see him lead me to the altar to humble himself before God. And you wouldn’t see those hands gently help me shower after I had surgery.
You wouldn’t see any of that just by looking at their hands. You wouldn’t see them at all. You’d see fingers and nails and knuckles. You’d see bruises and dirt and scratches. You’d see a wedding band and bare place where a band used to rest. No, you’d surely miss the mark if you judged the men they are by the hands they have.
You’d miss the good men, the great men, they truly are.
A man is not defined by his hands, but rather by what they do. I don’t mean what they do at work, I mean how they use their hands to take care of their loved ones. I mean how they use their hands to make things better. I mean how they use their hands to pass out kindness and grace and mercy and forgiveness. I mean how they love with their hands.
Those types of things don’t leave scars on a man’s hands to show the world. You can’t capture it in an image or point to it and say, “What a man!” Those are the kinds of things that leave marks on a man’s heart and on the hearts of those they love.
Photo: Getty Images