I see the world in language.
Sounds dramatic, I know, but hear me out. I’ve been a reader since I can remember—so many nights of turning on my lamp after bedtime, so many mornings waking up with my face on a still-open page. I majored in words, am making a career out of words, fill my free time with words. Our Jesus is The Author, our Scripture is The Story. And for a long time my life was exactly what I would’ve written. Until it wasn’t.
I entered my senior year of college with a storybook script. I had a loving, supportive, close-knit family, the best of friends, and a brand-new fiancee. But as I moved closer to putting on that ring and saying “I do,” my parents moved closer to removing their rings and saying “I can’t.”
The thing about becoming an adult child of divorce is the ‘adult’ part of the label is just for show. I am a child. I am their child. And with childlike faith, I begged and pleaded the Jesus I thought I understood for the outcome I knew would bring God the most glory, for the story I wanted to tell my future children, for the chapter that would heal my blindsided heart.
But that’s not what God had in mind.
I offered my thoughts, my desires. Gave Him talking points. Put a strategic plan right into His hands...just needed Him to implement. Would you believe my plan and His didn’t match? I mean really…
And though the joking tone comes easily some days, I’m guessing many of you, dear readers, know the deep layers of hurt that come from years of confusing answers to prayer, disappointing answers to prayer.
I believe you are present, Lord. Why can’t I see you?
It’s in your power, Lord. Why don’t you fix this?
It’s been so long, Lord. Why is it still fresh hurt?
I’m still in the middle of this season, but over the last six years a brief passage from Genesis 32 has drawn me in again and again. Here Jacob has made some poor relationship decisions regarding his brother, Esau, and now Jacob must face him again after 20 years.
Jacob sends wave after wave of gifts to meet his brother in hopes of gaining favor before they actually meet. When he has sent everyone ahead of him, when he is finally alone, Jacob wrestles God who is on earth as a man. This scuffle lasts through the night and ends with the Lord dislocating Jacob's hip after Jacob refuses to let Him go without a blessing.
Refuses to let Him go. Can you imagine the audacity of this action? the courage? the seeming stupidity? And yet the Lord blesses Jacob.
It appears so black and white, so straightforward when read on the page of scripture. This event is recorded without any hint of strangeness, but when you let your mind invade the page, there is nothing normal about it. The God of the Universe walking on this earth, entangled with one He created, rolling in the dust, sweating while locked in an enduring struggle. Upon seeing the sun rise, He ends their match by blessing Jacob with a new name: Israel—he strives with God. The blessing that comes with a limp.
That definition of blessing—a life change by a life-altering injury—smacks in my mind. I don’t like it, don’t want to accept it, but does it make it any less true?
Like Jacob, I am a marked woman. My family bears the wounds. My marriage. My work. It’s not a limp of the leg, but a limp all the same. Though today I can’t say that I am ready to call my mark my blessing, I trust I one day will. It’s not the story I wanted. It’s not what I prayed for. I’m still in the middle of the night. The sun is coming, but it’s not yet here.
It’s in this season I’m incredibly grateful for God’s inclusion of Jacob’s story, the one that tells me it’s ok to wrestle with my God, that it’s worth it. In that struggle, I can’t hold on to anything besides my God, the One I don’t understand. And eventually my resistant hands will give into His everlasting arms, my tense face will rest in His chest, and in that embrace I will stay, refusing to let go.
Anne Summers is a communications associate at Valley Church. She has a deep love of sharing good conversation and good food, spending time with her two main men, Nate and Joel, and laughing at the antics of her high school small group.