The blades needed replacement on the old red Murray riding mower we use at the camp. I purchased two 21” blades from Lowes and got around to replacing them this past weekend for the first mow of the year. I hoisted the front end of that insanely heavy grass cutter and secured it’s lifted state with a strap tied to a rafter in the barn. Then, with the dexterity of a drunk surgeon, I attached one crescent wrench to the pulley nut and the other crescent wrench to the nut under the right blade. When the wrench slipped off the nut, my left hand jolted forward and had a fight with the worn out lawn mower blade. I discovered that the soft tissue on the back of my knuckles was was no match for an instrument designed to chop through yard vegetation. Thankfully, my thumbnail provided enough resistance to stop the blade from further damaging my thumb. After uttering some ugly words, I washed up and looked at the damage. I had a bad case of busted knuckles.
Over the next few days I learned to baby that hand. Occasionally, I would forget and jab my hand down in my pocket for my keys or my inhaler. The pain was immediate as the stitched seam of the pocket rim tightened across my outstretched fingers. Sometimes they would even begin to bleed again and I would have to wrap my hand in another paper towel. Even sleeping was tough as the covers would rub over the back of my hand or the little fibers would stick to the jagged edges of dried skin. It hurt.
It’s been a pain to deal with my busted knuckles, but life goes on. The other blade still got replaced. All the grass got mowed. I even repaired a punctured tire and continued to work around the camp for the next few days. I still drank my coffee in the mornings and I still had bills to pay. Life didn’t seem to care about my busted knuckles and soon I only thought about it when they a flash of pain reminded me that the injury was still healing.
A few times this week I’ve been asked, “What happened to your hand?” (Which is in part, why I decided to write about this experience.) My devious side wants to make up some story about a motorcycle accident, an encounter with Bigfoot, or saving a kitten from a tree, but the truth is I was just working. That surprises the folks to see me more as a pencil pusher with hands better suited for typing than dirty labor. In truth, I’m kind of proud of my busted knuckles. They remind me that I can get my hands dirty and do some real work.
Sure they hurt, but they also represent life. If you are really living, you will get your share of busted knuckles and band aids. If you are getting your hands dirty by really loving folks who need it most, it’s going to hurt. If you are busy trying to improve your life, you are going to have to make some changes that might injure you in the process. When you reach out to the world in living and loving, you have to have some skin in the game. The Apostle Paul says it this way in Ephesians 4:28, “Use your hands for good hard work and then give generously to others in need.”
My point is that busted knuckles shouldn’t prevent us from working hard. Instead they should be reminders that we are blessed enough to get to work. Life hurts sometimes, but at least we are living! Look at your work worn hands and hearts. Do they have the battle scars of living and loving? Have they been used to rebuild your family, your community, nation, and faith? If you are a doctor, use your hands for healing. If you are a gardener, use your hands for growing. If you a mother, use your hands for holding. If you are a father, use your hands for leading. If you are a contractor, use your hands for building. If you are an artist, use your hands for creating. You might bust your knuckles sometimes, but it’s worth it! If you are a person, use your hands for loving!
Love one. Love another.
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