The Power of Our Hands

As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up — one on one side, one on the other — so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the LORD, the LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.” Exodus‬ ‭17:11–12, 15–16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Our hands have the ability to do many things. Which do we choose? Do we lift our hands to help one another like Aaron and Hur did for Moses or do we lift our hands against His ways?

In this photo, I share the importance of our hands in relation to my faith. The hand with the purple nails belong to me, Lisa Vannalee. The hand with the gray nails belong to my sister, Bouala.

As a result of my C5-C6 complete spinal cord injury, my hands are constantly closed in a fist. In other — more technical and medical — words, I have a tenodesis grasp. (Feel free to fist bump me or just grab my fist and shake it like you normally would in a regular handshake; I really don’t mind). When I speak, especially when I’m enthusiastic, I tend to move my arms around quite a bit. These less than graceful movements are reminiscent of shadow boxing. And as a result of my tenodesis grip — grip or grasp are interchangeable — I cannot flex my fingers or open my hands to grab an object.

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you couldn’t use your hands? How would you eat? How would you wipe your nose or other parts of your body? How would you slap a mosquito buzzing around your face? Or slap your loved one’s in the back of their heads because of some nonsense? How would you open up a water bottle or hold onto your perfectly piping hot tea? Or coffee? How would you unlock and open a door of a room that you’re in? How would you type that 1,500 page paper that’s due in two days? Or how would your grab your phone to text your Mom to simply and meaningfully say, I love you?

I’ve had to improvise, ghetto-fy, adapt, adjust and hurt myself — unintentionally, of course — as I traverse this almost 10 year journey of my injury. But what has made it all possible to endure all of that is God’s truth and examples as to how we utilize our hands. In the battle to defeat the Amalekites, Moses’ brother Aaron and their companion, Hur, held his hands up to defeat the Amalekites.

I can’t help but be grateful that God has also blessed me with my sister, Bouala, especially my Mama and so many other people who have chosen to lift their hands to help me. They’ve chosen to groom my hair, dress me, feed me, dry my tears, wipe my snot, drive me places, transfer me from bed to chair and chair to bed, put on my shoes, open my doors, clear my paths, hold me when I fall forward, put pressure on my spastic legs, carry my dead weight of a body, and so much more.

There’s not enough gratitude that I can express or praise that I can offer for how God gives us the ability to use our hands. But having to be physically dependent on others and seeing how I have an incredible support system of loved ones who would literally lift me up with their hands, I have witnessed the amazing things that happen when we choose to lift our hands to help instead of hurt, to open our hands to receive or give, and to spread out fingers to grasp our loved one’s who are unable to do the same.


*** My Mama more than anyone has chosen to give her hands for me. And when I think of my Mama‘s hands, I hope and pray she knows that each scrape, each wrinkle, each crack and ash of her skin is humbly appreciated. I hope her hands will receive the same comfort she offers every time she chooses to open them up. I hope her hands will be soothed beyond the physical. I hope her hands are met with the same warmth and strength she provides. And I hope the hands she chooses to open will be reciprocated with love that is felt within the very simple touch of her fingertips.

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