Thursday, March 19, 2009


I was 12 the first time it happened. Just sitting on the beach, minding my own business, reading Gone With the Wind. I only had a few chapters left to read, and I remember being so excited because I was going to win the bet with my Grammie. She hadn't thought I could read the entire book in one day. Yet, here it was only 6 hours after I'd started and I was almost done.

A shadow fell over me, blocking out the light.

"What the hell do you want?" I asked, looking up.

A man in a ratty blue suit (looked like it was a left over from the 70s) stood over me holding a bible in his hand. "Do you know why you only have one hand, young lady?"


"It's because you are a sinner. You hold evil inside you and that is your punishment from God."

I frantically looked up and down the beach, hoping that someone from my family would show up and get rid of this guy because he scared the living daylights out of me. But there was no one in sight, not even my 6 year old sister.

"Don't you know that if you love God deeply enough and believe in Him strongly enough and pray hard enough that God will let your other hand grow?" He dropped to his knees on the blanket next to me.

I scooted as far away from him as I could while still remaining on the blanket where I had promised my parents I'd stay.

"Obviously you don’t believe. And don’t pray. Let’s kneel and pray together and ask God to give you your other hand. My faith and love are strong and pure. He will listen to me, forgive you all your evil and let your hand grow."

Screaming at him to stay away from me, I ran down the beach until I found my mom and sister collecting shells. I stayed with them for the rest of the day, and did not return to the beach for the remainder of our vacation.

That incident has always stayed with me for a few reasons. I don't think I've ever been so scared in my life. It made me leery of organized religion. And it made me question why I had only one hand.

But I was willing to believe that this man was an anomaly, that he didn't represent the thinking of an entire religious group. I put it to the back of my mind. Until it happened again.

My ex-husband took me to visit his extended family the Easter weekend before we got married. I was so excited. My family had never been close and his was, so I wanted desperately to be accepted. Everything was going fine until we got to his cousin Maria's house.

Her husband, Bill, bible in hand, cornered me in the kitchen and repeated almost word for word what the man at the beach had said to me.

Luckily, I wasn't a scared kid anymore. "I agree that God made my arm like this purposely. But it’s not a punishment. It’s a way to teach people that it’s okay to be different. A tool to educate the scared and ignorant like you." I smirked at him. "You do realize that people hate most in others what they hate in themselves? So what are you lacking?"

Then I turned and walked out. I never went back to their house, and didn't speak to them at the wedding.


  1. Dreadful that someone would say that to a kid, or anyone for that matter! I'm leery of organized religion too...for different reasons. :-/

    Kudos for reading Gone with the Wind in one day!! Have you read Forever Amber? It's one of my favorite novels...sort of the British Gone with the Wind. :-)

  2. I hate when people do that. It's stupid, mean, annoying and...well, mean. Kudos to you for standing up to Bill.

    You inspire me, you know that? I dunno if I could stand up like that. I'd probably just say "okay..." and walk off. So here's a little "you're awesome" from me. :)

  3. Sarah, what a terrible experience for the first one... for the second, all I can say is good for you for standing up for yourself! This really shows the strength of your character and what your experiences have taught you.

    Thank you for sharing this!

  4. Wow! I'm sorry, Sarah. You're absolutely right though, people tend to hate most in others what they hate most about themselves. Good for you for standing up for yourself. :)

  5. OK, everyone, on 3...





    There are so many flaws in the logic of zealots that it's almost funny.

    So God takes away a hand from the fetus in the womb because that person will be a sinner. Now we know that the right to lifers who claim the innocence of every child are wrong. Is this logic a call for mass abortions, since everyone is already evil upon conception? Or just mass prayer upon the bellies of pregnant women...

    According to the New Testament, everyone is a sinner, except for Jesus and Mary. Why then isn't everyone born with one hand, if that is the result of being a sinner?

    So before you were born an all knowing, all powerful, and all loving God punished you for sins you will commit in your life?

    I'm sorry, my God isn't that big of a dick, and is above such things. This means that my God is bigger than their God and could probably beat their God up. With only one hand.

  6. Rick...LOL! That last paragraph made me spit my soda...through my nose! he he

  7. Litgirl - A lot of people seem to think that a person with a handicap doesn't actually have feelings. That's pretty mild compared to some stuff I've had to deal with. No, I haven't read Forever Amber.

    Jen - I'm sure that if you had to deal with it your entire life, like I have, that you'd stand up for yourself. It goes in stages really - 1) the first few times, you're so hurt that you can't even cry, 2) you react and badly, and 3) after years of experience, you learn how to respond in such a way that you are polite, but the other person looks like a total ass :)

    Glam & Dani - Thanks. Everyone will stand up for themselves. All that's different is their breaking point that makes them start.

    Rick - Thanks. I really like the way you phrased your response. Cracked me up. But I agree that God isn't like that at all.

  8. Thanks. I just call 'em as I see 'em ;-)