“The Woodworking Shop” by Charles Palmie, Source (PD-Art l Old-100)

Artists who work in wood can create astonishingly delicate sculptures.  The tools used include jig and circular saws, routers, planers, and drills.  Sandpaper with a fine grain can make a wood surface feel as smooth as silk.

But the reverse is, also, true.  Because sandpaper is abrasive, it can create a coarse surface, spoiling the natural beauty of wood.  Badly machining wood can create defects which limit its usefulness.

Abuse can do the same to us.


The fragility of children evokes a desire to protect in most sane adults.

Abusers, by contrast, seem to delight in destroying that fragility.  Innocence does not act as a brake on their actions.  Instead, it evokes an insatiable perverted hunger or a deep-seated hatred for what is pure and unattainable.

Either way, the impact on children is the same.  They are grist for the mill, victims of appetites they cannot comprehend, consumed by the selfishness of more powerful adults as their predecessors were once sacrificed to the god Molech [1].


Cutting wood mechanically forces a structural failure in the wood.  The process is influenced by the direction of the force applied and the strength of the wood, itself (a quality related both to the species of wood, and moisture content of a particular tree) [2].

This is very like the impact abuse has on children.  The relationship between an abuser and his/her victim, the type of abuse, its severity, the length for which it takes place, the age of the victim, and the resources that victim brings to the situation all play a role.

Weakness and Strength

Many abuse victims grow into vulnerable adults.  This does not necessarily mean they are weak.  It required enormous strength merely to survive.

Others take on a coarser demeanor.  This does not mean they were any less sensitive, or that the wounds inflicted on them were any less severe.  They simply developed a gruff and combative exterior in response to their abuse.  Tragically, that exterior does little to generate sympathy for their suffering.


The scars of abuse cannot be easily laid aside.  Fortunately, we have a Carpenter skilled at dealing with them.

He made the world without saws, axes, or lathes.  His gentle hand can uplift crushed spirits and repair broken lives.  No sandpaper required.

Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon?  And are not His sisters here with us?” (Mark 6: 3).

[1] Molech (also, known as Baal) was a Canaanite god associated with child sacrifice. According to rabbinical tradition, the children “passed through the fire” to Molech were thrown into a fiery furnace.  The Bible strongly forbade this practice.  See, Leviticus 18: 21 and 20: 2; and Jeremiah 32: 35.

[2] Woodweb, “Rx for wood machining defects” by Prof. Gene Wengert, 1998,



Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

16 responses to “Sandpaper

  1. There is an old proverb associated with woodworking that says to ” measure twice and cut once”. The meaning behind this of course is that with wood, there is no undoing the damage incurred by a careless,or reckless cut.

    Not so with the Carpenter of Nazareth!

    Great post Anna.

  2. Oh, such blessed analogies and metaphors bring your incredible insight to life…you are amazing and so appreciated!!!! Thank you for always giving your best to your readers, and for shining so brightly, my friend ❤

  3. Great post Anna! I love how you concluded with Jesus.. the answer for all our splinters of life .. 🙂

  4. As always your words are sensitive and caring and show how deeply you understand the devastation of the effects of abuse on small, perfect innocent souls. Those of us who would not dream of harming a child are unable to fathom the minds of those who do. Your analogy using wood illustrates the effects of abuse in a way that makes that suffering palpable – very cleverly done! But you don’t just leave it there – you offer a way to “uplift crushed spirits and repair broken lives. No sandpaper required”. Jesus is the Way!
    I don’t know how many ways to say what an amazing writer you are, Anna, so I’ll just reiterate what Truly says above. 🙂

  5. I also love the picture of the workshop – it conjures up for me, really pleasant memories. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’m almost sure that I had an uncle who did carpentry – an uncle who I loved very much. So thank you for that, Anna! 🙂

  6. So much love… thank you.

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