When I am approaching any store my first question is, “Are they open, or closed?” The answer to that question greatly determines my expectations. If they are closed, I don’t expect much of anything from them. If they are open, I expect to be welcomed and the possibility of an exchange of resources. This makes it easy when approaching a store, but what about people? Don’t you wish people wore a sign that indicated if they are open or closed?
I think I have discovered one of those signs. Watch their hands. Are their hands open, or closed? If they have open hands they are approachable, they will likely welcome you and there is a good chance of interaction with them. However, if their hands are closed, then it will be difficult to have positive interaction with them.
In defense of having closed hands, if your hands are closed around what you have then you appear unlikely to lose any of it. You could certainly be seen as defending what you have, after all a closed fist is a universal sign of anger. But the problem with closed hands is that it prevents you from receiving anything else. You cannot bless anyone else with closed hands. When was the last time you saw anyone give a hug with clenched fists? You may have seen someone with clenched fists get hugged by someone else. But notice that the hands of the “hugger” were open as they embraced the person. You can’t welcome anyone or anything with closed hands. You cannot provide, give or bless anyone else with closed hands.
Open, or closed? Take a look, what are you communicating with your hands?
I realize that the germ-a-phobics among us are cringing at the thought of the things that may get passed from one to another with open hands. However, I still get to determine what I will pass on to others, by how I prepare my hands and what I place in them. I am a chaplain one day a week at our local hospital. As a part of my orientation for this ministry I was given more information than I really wanted to know about things that can get spread from one to another. What I loved about the training was that the emphasis was on preparing yourself, and especially your hands, for that possibility. The focus was not stay away from everything and everyone, but rather prepare yourself for whatever you may encounter.
So take a few minutes to look at your hands. Are you approaching life with them open, or closed? Are you ready to receive and give, or are you closed and unapproachable? Next time you are trying to figure someone out, watch their hands.