With Open Hands

17 Feb

On the night of February 14, my valentine was another woman without a date. We went to an open mic event where we listened to humorously awful love poetry. Then we ate out, making up for our reduced-calorie entrees with fried mozzarella sticks, and we laughed together over our own horrific love stories (or lack thereof). At my house, we shared red velvet cheesecake brownies while commiserating with each other for our mutual relational struggles.

She told me she hates when someone asks her, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” The socially acceptable answer has to do with where you want to live or what kind of employment you want to have. My friend would like to say she will be someone’s wife, someone’s mother. But what control does she have over the ambition for a family?

I can’t describe my life in five years either. I complained to her about not knowing where I will be, what I will be doing, or who I will be with in just a few months from now. I have no plans, only daydreams. But of course, even people with rock-solid plans don’t know what tomorrow might bring. Whatever plans we make, life doesn’t give guarantees.

My friend remarked that God likes to surprise us, just like a human father does for his children. Being blindfolded might make us nervous as we’re led through the dark, but the surprise is usually worth it.

Credit: Derrick Tyson,

Credit: Derrick Tyson,

She recommended that I approach the future with open hands. She held up one fist and said, “A fist is only good for holding onto something or for punching through.” Her other hand relaxed into a cupped shape. “An open hand can still hold things,” she added, “but it can also receive.”

A fist doesn’t receive anything except bruised knuckles. A fist is untrusting. Held at eye level, it can be a boxer’s guard. At the waist, it’s a martial artist’s security against a threat. Down at either side, they are stubbornly demanding. Pounded on the ground, the fist is a child’s temper tantrum.

But an open, upturned hand held out…there is vulnerability. It’s the child waiting for a cookie or maybe for medicine. It’s someone offering to hold a friend’s hand through the worst. It’s a sign for giving up and letting go. It’s the release from a tight grip. The open hand is willing and welcoming.

I could clench my fists and demand God for answers about my future, or with open hands, I can wait patiently for whatever surprise my Father has planned. It will be worth the wait.


Posted by on February 17, 2014 in Other thoughts


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2 responses to “With Open Hands

  1. Kathleen Your loving old Roommate

    February 17, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    I really love the idea behind this writing. Some of the greatest distress in my life has come from the fact that I rested too solidly in my plans and couldn’t handle it when they got changed. Ironically I have actually spent two different valentines with friends when I was in a relationship but that is the beauty of Valentines day; it shouldn’t just celebrate the Romantic love of partners but the love you hold for all those around you. I will however point out that a fist is not used as strongly in Martial arts. Most often when not preparing for a fist punch the hand is held cupped and soft. This allows you to grab as you need to and strike with the side of your hand as the opportunity becomes available. It actually follows the idea of your writing you don’t know what’s coming so be ready for anything.

    • Emily R

      February 17, 2014 at 10:32 pm

      Kathleen! So good to hear from you! Thank you for reading. 🙂 I appreciate your comments, especially the correction about the martial arts metaphor. So you’re saying a cupped, soft hand is preferred because it’s more versatile for whatever move is needed. Brilliant!


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