Holding Hands

My son just entered 6th grade this fall.  Officially a middle schooler now, I’ve been struggling a little with where the time has gone.  I think that he is struggling a little bit too.  He still likes to be close to us and sweet, but he also has the very natural desire to fit in with his friends.  One place that his struggle has become evident to me is in holding hands.  Only a few weeks ago, we all went on a family walk.  The girls grabbed their daddy’s hands so the boy was stuck walking by his mom.  He slipped his hand into mind in a comfortable sweet little boy way and we walked like that for several blocks.  Even though he is only about a half foot shy of my height, it’s nice to know that on the inside, he still needs his mom.  As we walked and talked, we noticed a group of kids around his age playing around in their yard up ahead.  He nonchalantly removed his hand from mine and kept walking.  I didn’t say anything about it, knowing that I was lucky to have an 11-year old who wanted to even be around his mom, let alone hold her hand!  After we passed out of the kids’ sight, he just as casually slipped his hand back into mine to finish the walk.holding hands2

Spending that walk with him got me to thinking about how our hand-holding changes through our lives.  When we are very young toddlers, just learning to walk, we have to hold on to parent’s hand in order to stay upright.  We stay close to that mommy or daddy with our little fists wrapped around their one big finger, trying to take those first steps.  Eventually, we do let go and toddle off on our own, but our parents are never far away even if we are not holding their hands.  As we become big preschoolers, we don’t need hands to help us walk, but we do need hands to help us – keep us safe as we cross the streets, guide us to where we are supposed to go, pull us back from danger.  Then as we get a little bit bigger into school ages, we don’t always have to hold our parents’ hands, but it’s nice to slip our little hands into bigger ones to feel that love and security that can come from just an affectionate squeeze.

Then come the teenage years where we wouldn’t be caught dead holding our parents’ hands, but we are more open to holding the hands of others – a boyfriend or girlfriend let’s say.  So now, we are holding hands to express new feelings of affection, rather than those secure feelings of love from home.  In married life, we hold hands to give one another support, remind each other of our love, and bring us closer together.  As parents, we reach for our children to do the guiding and protecting.

holding handsOver the course of our marriages, the hand-holding may not be as frequent as it was at the beginning of an exciting new relationship, but it’s not always holding hands but always having a hand to hold that really matters.  And near the end of our lives, we hold hands as old, beloved forever friends, knowing that one squeeze can recall years of loving marriages, parental acts of sacrifice and joyful times.

I noticed too how the evolution of our hand-holding through our lives also reflects our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Some times in our lives cause us to hold on tight to God as we step through life with wary, wavering steps, afraid of losing our grip.  We step out, depending on God to catch us if we stumble or miss a step.  Other times in our lives, we think we can make it on our own and that we don’t need His help.  We take off through life, but He lovingly and patiently grasps our hands, guiding us past dangers and leading us down His paths.  During comfortable, happy times, we can feel that we are doing the Father’s will but it’s nice to slip our hands into His to get an affectionate squeeze of affirmation.  We have times in our lives when our spiritual life seems to be created anew, reaching greater depths of God’s love for us.  In those times, slipping our hands into His can be like holding hands with a new love, full of excitement and delight.  And those times can turn into hand-holding through a deeper, more intimate relationship with God, knowing that we too must then use our hands to reach out to help others.

I pray that at the end of my life, when I slip my hand into the Lord’s, one loving squeeze with fill me with all of the memories of our hand-holdings through the years and all graces He has blessed me with throughout my lifetime.



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