I’ll never forget the day I noticed that my hands were the same as my Mother’s. It was shortly after she had died. I was nine years old and was working on putting together my science fair project. I can’t remember what the project was on, but I sure learned a lesson in genetics that day.
I remember looking down and seeing my hands splayed over the paste-covered poster board. I noticed how my fingers were long and tapered, and fanned out across the surface of the board just like hers. I studied them for the longest time, drawing comfort in the utterly familiar shape. I wiggled my fingers, turned my hand over and back, closed my fingers, grasping the unseen air heavy with memories in the garage.
Ever since that moment, the knowledge that I have my mother’s hands is never far from me. I’m told that I move like her, speak like her, think like her, but it’s the hands that stand out to me. I have her hands, the same hands that were given to her by my grandmother.
When I found out I was pregnant with a girl, the first thought I had was, “I hope she has my hands. My mother’s hands.”
I hope that she has the hands that have been passed down for countless generations. The hands that held mine when I decided to follow Jesus. The hands that opened the Bible for me, the hands that touched my forehead when I was sick and prayed. The hands that were raised in worship. The hands that pointed to Jesus. Always.
It’s with our hands that we produce. They are the vehicles of verbs in our lives- the medium we have to take action. Our words are powerful, our thoughts are unmatchable but it’s our hands, our ability to put these things into action that make the difference.
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2: 17
I saw my mother’s hands, my grandmother’s hands, and my great grandmother’s hands. They were all the same- putting faith into action and then handing it off to me like a pair of gloves that fit just right.
I was born into a beautiful legacy given to me by my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles for generations on end and the weight of it sits on me heavily but comfortably.
My daughter has my hands. Her fingers are long and tapered, constantly reaching for the world, and it is my job to fill them with all of the same things that mine were filled with. My hands are the carriers of that faith now and it’s my task to ignite it with action.
When she looks down and sees her hands, the same as her mother’s, I want her to not only remember the way my index finger looked when it pointed at pictures or the way our knuckles feel the same against each other when we hold hands. I want her to remember what my hands did with the stuff that poured out of my heart.
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” 2 Timothy 1:5-6
My hands are only a small portion of the inheritance that I was given but I find something so poetic about them being the embodiment of my heritage. I know that faith without action is dead just as I know that the the hands that I was given have been molded over generations to hold that faith and do something with it.
They are my challenge, my reminder, the constant branding of what I was born into and now my daughter has them too. She has been given the same tools of our trade, like a carpenter hands down his tools to his son. And I pray that the legacy lasts. I pray that I can build a legacy for my children that lives up to the one that I was given, a legacy that has Christ at the center like a strand of DNA. That the shape of her hands would compel her to put faith into action because that’s what these hands were made to do.
It’s a gift, this ability to pass things down. It’s magical and bewildering the way one person can be so similar to another. After I got a little older, I used to put on my Mother’s rings and just simply stare at my hands, finding comfort in my ability to mimic her without effort. When I looked down I saw her and me, together, and I basked in the gift that she gave me. The one that drew me closer to Heaven; the place where she and Jesus are.
That’s what our legacy to children should be; one that draws them closer to Heaven. So fan that faith into action until that flame in your heart is big enough to send out sparks flying fast and free and purposeful. Fan it with your action until those sparks land in their hearts and take to smoldering.