Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Hands of a Mother

by Sarah Van Diest @SarahVanDiest

Mothers’ hands are often full. They hold bottles and diapers, dance costumes and permission slips, baseball caps and treasured, half-eaten, slightly moist cookies. Her hands are almost never empty. An empty hand can do many things, though. And sometimes mothers wish they had three or four. But an empty hand may sometimes feel odd, almost wrong, as if something important has been forgotten or dropped, as if something is missing.

Empty hands can seem insufficient and not enough. They can mean we’ve lost something we once held or we’ve never held what we had hoped. Empty hands can be our undoing.

But this is where love may sit and wait.

Love is often carried in empty hands.

Empty Handed
Empty handed.
That’s how I come to you, my dear.
I have nothing to give,
Nothing to bring,
Nothing to offer to undo your pain.
It’s just me walking to you with empty hands.

I sit next to you.
And hear your story.
I listen and watch.
Your hands shake and tremble.
I hold them and wrap them in my own.
No longer empty handed.

Tears fill your eyes
And tumble down your face.
Your brow furrows
And your lip quivers.
I hold your face in my hands
And wipe it dry.
No longer empty handed.

Tears turn to sobs
And hurt envelops you.
Strength evaporates
And your body falls weak.
I hold you in my arms.
No longer empty handed.

I came to you empty handed.
I had nothing to give,
Nothing to bring,
Nothing to offer to undo your pain.
It was just me walking to you with empty hands.
But love never leaves me that way.

Mother’s Day can be full of joy and celebration, but for many there is pain. Today, let us comfort those whose hearts are breaking, rest in the arms of the Father of all, know that each of us is held, and rejoice in the good gifts our lives have known.

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” Psalm 34:18.

The empty hands of a mother - thoughts from @SarahVanDiest (Click to Tweet)

Educated as a teacher, Sarah taught school for nearly 20 years. As a young woman, she lived in China amid the rice paddies and water buffalo near Changsha, and then later taught English in Costa Rica for four years and raised her two sons. 

Sarah is married for the second time, the mother of 2 boys and the step-mother to 3 more. She and her husband, David, work together in their agency The Van Diest Literary Agency. Her full name is Sarah Ruth Gerke Van Diest. She’s 5’5” and cuts her hair when stress overtakes her. 

She is a freelance editor (including a New York Times and USA Today bestseller), blogger (The Write Conversation) and writer for hire. Her first book releases with NavPress in 2018. 


  1. Thank you for reminding us of the empty-handed, especially today, Sarah. May your Mother's Day be a beautiful one.

    1. Thank you, Cathy! I hope you had a lovely day as well. See you soon!

  2. How beautiful and appropriate for Mother's Day! Love it.

    1. Thank you, Ingmar!
      Blessings to you,

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, Molly Jo!

  4. I'm crying as I read this. Your words and heart are beautiful, Sarah. Hands feel a little less empty when we're surrounded by the love of true friends.