I love and respect men of God. I have come to understand not to, for whatsoever reason, dishonor their office. Even the ones whose ministries have once, or repeatedly, been rocked by one controversy or the other. I have consciously ingrained it in me that latching onto that as an excuse would be unwise of me. I’ll rather direct all that time and energy towards growing my own relationship with God.
Like I already mentioned, I respect men of God. Hence, I believe in following instruction as they come from their mouths. However, one instruction that doesn’t particularly get me excited is the one where they ask you to hold the hands of the persons seated next to you on both sides. I prefer the ‘turn to your neighbor’ option. In fact, I love the turn to your neighbor option. I love to hit God’s people with some awesomeness. I love to see them flinch when overwhelmed by the undiluted awesomeness starring them right back in the face. I’m just kidding.
Let me point out, my dislike for holding hands in church has nothing to do with vanity. Sure, I could be vain if the situation demands it – situational vanity. But, would I bring my vanity with me to church? Of course, not. My sole reason for disliking having to hold hands with neighbors in church is because I sweat on my palms. (I sweat on my feet too. But, for this post let’s just focus on the palms). Yes, I’m one of those people whose palms are at most times, to put it lightly, irritatingly moist. And it can be very embarrassing. That’s the reason I don’t fancy holding hands. I really don’t want to be remembered as “the one with the sweaty palms.” That’s why I would rather keep my hand to myself. I’m more comfortable that way.
Sweaty palms have caused me a lot of inconvenience in my life. For example, in secondary school, my sweaty palms accounted for me not standing a chance with technical drawing. My technical drawing assignments never came back with encouraging scores. I still have lucid mental pictures of the consistent low marks I was scored for neatness. Till date, I feel traumatized whenever I remember Mr. Idowu Peters’ red pen on my drawing sheets. And, this is just one of a myriad of inconveniences I’ve had to, and still, deal with. There is the discomfort of typing on my phone with sweaty palms. The imminent ruin of sheets of paper when they remain in my grasp for far too long. Really, it’s an endless list.
The good thing is that I have come to accept myself this way. The many discomforts notwithstanding, I have learnt to enjoy life with my sweaty palms. However, the embarrassment that comes with discomforting others with my sweaty palm is what I haven’t found my way around. As long as my sweaty palm does not disturb someone else, I’m good. The only time I feel bad about my sweaty palms is when this discomfort extends to other people.
As a result, the thought of having to hold hands with people in church makes me nervous. The painful thing is that, most times, until the instruction to hold hands comes, my palms are usually dry enough. But, the moment the instruction to hold hands is released, I get nervous and begin sweating on my palms. Even if I’m seated directly beside the air conditioner, it makes no difference. My nervous self sweats on his palm under any given condition.
Holding hands while sweating on my palms is one very awkward situation I repeatedly find myself. I’m always extra self-conscious in such situations. That’s why I love avoiding it in church. If it was only in such moments of holding hands that prayers were answered, I would have missed out on almost all of God’s blessings for my life. I just would have been too self-conscious and distracted to receive jack!
Holding hands in church, I might pretend to be perfectly okay. But in my mind, I’m most likely starting work on a questionnaire of a dozen pages. ‘Do you feel comfortable holding my sweaty palms?’ ‘Does this irritate you?’ ‘If you had an option would you hold hands with someone else?’ ‘Are you thinking of a polite way to escape in your mind?’ ‘On a scale of 1-10, how eager are you for this prayer session to come to an end?’’Are you right now hoping the instruction to hold hands with another person comes from the altar?’
Sometimes, I try to give neighbors the tip of my pinky finger to hold on to. All in a bid to make the situation less awkward for myself. But, some enthusiastic neighbors who don’t want to joke with the pastor’s instruction would ignore my pinky and wrap their hands fully around mine. The grip causing my palms to secrete even more sweat while I hold on, helpless.
I, honestly, wish I would never have to hold hands with my neighbor in church for the rest of my life. But, you’ll agree with me, my chances are extremely slim. Holding your neighbor’s hand happens to be one instruction typical of many Nigerian Christian gatherings. I just wish I could tell men of God that I want to be left alone and not hold hands.
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