Because It’s Hard to Lose a Giant
When my daughter told me that someone at the gym got a Yurchenko and Jager Piked, I thought the coaches had taken the girls out for drinks. Turns out they are actual skills. The exact nature of the skills, I couldn’t tell you. I can only assume that they involve strange contortions and nerves of steel.
Most days I can hardly stand to watch her five-hour gymnastics practices. I quite frankly just don’t understand the sport, and it’s excruciating to watch the struggle for perfection. In my daughter’s world, the bane of her existence is the bars. Specifically the cast to handstand and giant; two skills required for level 7 that come and go from her repertoire on a daily basis.
The inconsistency of her giant (a full circle around the high bar that passes through handstand) has sent her coach into a tizzy on more than one occasion. Often leading to an entire bar rotation devoted to mastering the skill. One day she spent an hour and a half on the strap bar doing sets of giants; twelve at a time. I watched the repetition and thought to myself “it is going to be a long ride home.” Only to have her bounce out of practice excited that she “almost had it.”
Her hands are calloused, ripped, and bleeding. At ten-years-old her shopping list always includes Preparation-H and vitamin E (the antidote for the destruction of her palms). She describes healing as “less painful.” And every day she bounces to the car with shredded hands, proclaiming what a fantastic day she had. With her, it is a labor of love. Her passion for the sport overpowers any sense of self-preservation.
From the time we are small we learn to sing “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” Sighted as outstretched and mighty, the hand of God is depicted in picture Bibles and greeting cards alike. All of the images I have ever seen of God’s hands are brawny and masculine; defined by large knuckles and smooth skin.
Yet the only time that God gives any description of the physical nature of His hands, the picture is brutal. When the nation of Israel cried out that God had forgotten them, He responded through a prophet. “How can I forget you?,” God asks, “your names are engraved in the palm of my hand.”
Considering the act of engraving, the tools involved, it is an appalling description. Forget large knuckles and smooth skin. God’s hands are like my daughter’s; ripped and bleeding. Not in some gruesome way, but as the hands of anyone who labors.
We are the labor of His love. As seen in the cross, the object of His passion that overpowers any sense of self-preservation.
It is comforting for me to imagine God’s hands in this way. To know that He labors with me. To know that at the end of the day I can rejoice for I, though nowhere near perfection, am a little closer to getting it right . . . with the help of His hands.
On the days my daughter struggles with her giant, she often declares that she has lost it. To which I respond in jest; “that’s impressive, it’s hard to lose a giant.” I then remind her to look at her hands; they are the proof that it is still there somewhere.
On the days that I struggle with my faith, it is not lost. The proof is engraved in the palm of His hand.