Hand holding is an act of affection which offers affection; protection; comfort; emotional, and physical support (Wikipedia). Hand holding is a simple act but it offers so much. It is common to see people holding hands when there is love, excitement, unity, grief, anticipation, celebration, fear, doubt, pain, weakness, and loss. Holding hands has been a part of our marriage these many (62+) years.
Unity – When our son-in-law coached football, at the opening of each game, the team boldly took the field holding hands. In the beginning it seemed odd and the opposing teams made fun. But as the season went on, it became a symbol of unity leading to winning games and eventually taking the state championship. During the marriage ceremony, the bride and groom are instructed to hold hands as a sign of their unity. Before Covid, at the closing of each service in a church we visited occasionally in Virginia, everyone joined hands, reaching across the aisles, for the benediction. The church is not perfect but this simple act of unity was a reminder, “…how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). Our family joins hands when we pray before each meal – a sweet reminder of unity.
Protection and Comfort – Occasionally Ted and I fly to meetings or to visit our family. Although it is convenient and a time saver, I don’t really enjoy flying. On take off and landing, I grab by husband’s hand and hang on tightly. If the flight happens to be bumpy due to bad weather, it seems I squeeze hard enough to cause bruising. Holding hands gives me a sense of protection and comfort. Children sense the protection of their parents when they hold their hands crossing busy streets or leading them to their classrooms or when going into strange places. As my mother lay dying, I held her hand until her last breath. It was a comfort to me, and I hope she felt that same comfort. When loved ones lie in hospital beds or are placed in the ICU, it is comforting to be able to hold hands with family members. It also offers a sense of protection.
Affection – Holding hands is a sign of affection. I love holding hands with my husband. When we watch TV, he often reaches for my hand. In church, holding hands is a sweet reminder of our love. Often when we are holding hands, he squeezes three times which means, “I love you.” Sometimes I squeeze back four times which means, “I love you more.” We used to sit behind a young couple in a church where we attended in Tennessee. They had not been married very long. Some Sunday mornings they sat very close together and held hands. Other times we noticed they sat far apart and there was no hand holding. We would smile because we knew when they were having a good day and when they were not. A cousin of mine and his wife always held hands during the prayers in their church. One Sunday morning as they were holding hands, his dropped. She opened her eyes to look at him. Just that quickly he was gone from a heart attack. His wife’s memory of this special show of affection lives on. I remember another couple whose relationship was broken. One reason was the wife would not show any affection. One day the husband was rushed to the hospital. His wife called for our help. We walked into the hospital room. She was holding his hand, but it was too late. She held a dead hand. There was no time left to give affection.
Anticipation and Excitement – In competition, beauty pageants, talent shows, etc. before the winner is announced, the finalists usually hold hands in their excitement and anticipation. Just the feel of someone’s hand in yours offers assurance, hope, connection, and togetherness. By nature, a hand to hold is something everyone wants and needs. (Yes, Covid has changed this.)
The Lord – A Hand Holder – The Lord offers to us every benefit of holding hands. Maybe holding hands was His idea. “For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not: I will help thee” (Isa 41:13). “…I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand” (Ps 73:23). “Because thou has been my help…will I rejoice. My soul followeth…after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me” (Ps 63:7,8). “Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (Ps 139:10). “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand” (Ps 37:23,24).
“…The Lord is at hand” (Phil 4:5). He is right beside me at all times. He is at my hand. When I am afraid and need comfort and protection, when I need assurance and hope, when I am lonely and need affection, when grief overtakes me, when I am excited and rejoicing, in any situation and at any time or place, all I need to do is reach out and take His unseen hand. He will never leave me nor forsake me. He will hold me with his right hand of power and protection. I want always to be holding hands with the Lord. Here is an old hymn, written by A. J. Sims, that gives comfort, assurance, and hope.
The Unseen Hand
There is an unseen hand to me,
That leads through ways I cannot see
While going through this world of woe,
This hand still leads me as I go.
This hand has led through shadows drear
And while it leads I have no fear
I know t’will lead, me to that home
Where sin nor sorrow ere can come.
I long to see, my Savior’s face
And sing the story saved by grace
And there upon that golden strand
I’ll praise him for his guiding hand.
I’m trusting to the unseen hand,
That guides me through this weary land
Then some sweet day I’ll reach that strand,
Still guided by the unseen hand.
This is written because I care…Carlene