I once dated a man, with whom I was afraid to hold hands. Not because I was shy but because I knew my hands were rough and callused instead of soft and smooth. I was looking at the scars and marks on my hands the other day. I am no longer embarrassed by their roughness, because I know the stories behind it. I look at the marks and I see the long days in the field and nights where I didn't get enough sleep. I see a steady hand on the steering wheel, gentleness to teach a goat kid to suck, and pat a babies back, and strength to pull ropes tight and hold boards in place to nail. I see fingernails that will never be manicured because they need to be short so I don't nick a vegetable, scratch a cows teat, or catch on equipment and get ripped off. I see places where I have scars from accidentally cutting myself when I intended to cut a plant stem, and I know I learned the hard way that a sharp knife is less dangerous than a dull one. I feel the bumpy ridge where the bones knit themselves back together when I got wrapped up in the collar chain of a cow I was determined to be more stubborn than even though she weighed at least 8 times more than me. I remember that day like it was yesterday and almost laugh at myself for not realizing how badly I was bleeding till I saw the look on my friend's face when he saw it. I feel the stiffness in my knuckles on the frosty mornings, ruefully reminding me of all the times I should have worn gloves and didn't. My trigger finger goes numb when I hunt, taking me back to a summer day in the blueberry patch when I tried to "fix" my flip-flop and folded the knife up on my finger. The wounds have healed and the scars faded. I currently have "reminders" that I am learning to respect the wood stove and the stacks of firewood that I need to keep the house cozy.
I look at my hands once again and see that God put in me strength and willingness for the tasks that lie ahead, may I do them with my might.