My precious calluses

As of current, I’m physically deconditioned. Among other activities, I have not done kettlebell training, olympic lifting, or serious pullups in nearly nine months. As a result, my calluses are gone. Like pain, calluses are protectors. I have added some Olympic lifting to this week’s training. Before my first attempt, I sought out the smoothest bar I could. You see, most bars have a roughness that assists with gripping. To the deconditioned hand – this can mean anything from cuts and scrapes to blisters and flapping skin.

In the past, I have compared battle wounds with the women I’ve worked out with. Many women, and few men, resort to using gloves to protect their palms. I used gloves for a couple of years, and eventually found them more detrimental to my workout – they became an unnecessary distraction and bother. I suffered through weeks and months of blisters, leading to the development of calluses. I didn’t realize until recently just how precious those calluses were to me.

callusesThis image does not do justice. I took this immediately after my workout and the redness and swelling only became worse (that’s my body sending it’s healing to my palms!). You can see that I still have some callusing at the crevice of my middle digit. And my skin is slightly broken across the palm. I’m actually quite impressed with myself – I selected a gentle bar!

But today, I miss my precious, hard-earned calluses. Throughout my workout, I had to distract myself from the pain. I had to focus on the minutia of the lifts (I’m sure this actually added to the quality of my workout). I’ve had friends state that my calluses make me less feminine, “don’t you want feminine hands?” I want useful hands. I want strong and powerful hands.

Calluses are thickened layers of skin caused by repeated pressure or friction. The thickening of the skin is a protective reaction. I’ve often been described as having a callus attitude or personality. Over time, I developed a protective layer – placed strategically between me and all who could possibly cause me pain. Years of emotional abuse from family, friends, and significant others has made it difficult to trust – or sometimes to care at all. I want to maintain my physical calluses – I don’t want the pain associated with my daily workouts. But can I work to heal the calluses of my heart? I let my physical calluses heal for a season – so I know that healing is possible.

For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ – Matthew 13:15

Do you have calluses that need healing?