When I was in high school, I was with the school band and we were invited to perform at Disneyland. The teachers made it a trip to remember and gave us time to stop and enjoy LA and Hollywood. On the first night in LA, typical high school drama erupted. I remember the people involved, but I don’t remember what it was over. Either way, I remember ending up outside the hotel bawling my eyes out. I remember the current boyfriend taking a half hour to even want to deal with me, and then not really being able to support how hurt I felt. I was broken and alone.
Then, this guy rode up on his bike. I should have been nervous. I was in a big city, I was a young woman, and this guy looked like some odd cross between Jesus and homeless. But there was something about the way he approached me like a scared animal. He was calm, collected, and respectful. And to this day, I still think about the message he had for me.
He said, “I have ridden by this hotel four times and have heard you crying each time. I decided enough was enough and I had to come speak with you. I don’t know what’s causing you to hurt. But I know you feel unsupported. I know you feel alone. And I know you feel broken. You see, there will come a day where God gives you a man who fits. A man who supports you. A man who truly loves you. And you’ll know it by the way he holds your hand.”
I remember my spine straightening, ready to defend (again) the poor relationship I was in. Ready to fight for it simply because I had no interest in admitting I was wrong to stay. But he sensed it and took my hand. “Young lady, that man will hold your hand like I hold my wife’s. Sometimes, you will need him to be steady, strong, true. You will need him to be a rock. And without saying a word he will prove he is your rock by gently laying your hand on top of a strong, steady fist.
“Sometimes, you will feel small, scared, and vulnerable. You will need that same man to be your protector, your warrior, your defender. And before he ever stands his ground to do so with words, he will silently protect you by wrapping is hands around your fist. Showing you you’re safe, while also proving you are a rock of your own and just as strong.”
Then he lowered his voice and whispered, “Sweetheart, this one isn’t it. But he’s coming.”
If only I had been patient with God’s message I could have avoided so much heartache. But I was strong-willed and determined, and utterly young. When I finally made the move away from a poisonous relationship, a few months later I went on a date with a man and he covered my small hand with his before telling me that I didn’t deserve how I was treated. A year after that, I had an anxiety attack, and that same man placed my hand on top of his fist while steadily telling me it would pass.
To this day, that wonderful man shows he is my rock and my protection in every day of our marriage. And often, God whispers what I need through the way my husband holds my hand.
Sometimes we need someone to remind us we deserve more. Sometimes we need someone to protect us. Sometimes we need someone to ground us. Next time you are with the person you love and trust most in this life, try holding their hand this way. You might be surprised at what a wordless gesture does to communicate the mutual love and respect in a healthy relationship. Because really, we did vow “to have and to hold.”