Sometimes You Have to Wrestle

Love is…

I have to admit that I started writing this post with Johnny Cash singing “Ring of Fire” in my mind. You know…”Love is a burning thing….”

I’m not going there with this post, but I do love a good love song, and, Johnny, great job on this song! I love the trumpets! Truly a classic.

When you are up against something hard, I mean slam you down and frustrated hard, love becomes more evident as a desperate need to see, to touch, and to feel.  I’m listening to a book on audible and getting bombarded with messages of love.

The one thing I’ve consistently seen in all realms of my life is that most humans desire to belong and to feel loved. This expression of love takes on many forms, and our personality and love language can influence our love exchange. This post will not delve into the weeds of personality, life experiences, love language, and family history. Like an arrow hitting the mark, I want to head straight to the heart of the matter.

You are loved.

Remember when Jacob wrestled with God and said in passionate desperation, “I will not let you go unless you bless me”? If you don’t know this story, it is found in Genesis 32. What is interesting to me is that just before the up-all-night wrestling with God,  Jacob was going to have to face his older brother and 400 men potentially in battle. They did not get along to say the least, and there were so many ugly, family stories to explain why they may not get along.

What’s going on in your life? Is there something or many things that have added up to this day of reckoning? Yes our personality is set, and yes we can adapt, but I’ve lived long enough to bear witness to the simple fact that “we are who we are”.  But God…

God has this way, His way, of just showing up in our lives and wrestling with us. We may wrestle for years, or find ourselves in that quantum change moment.

A sudden, dramatic, and enduring transformations that affect a broad range of personal emotion, cognition, and behavior. This phenomenon has been described since the beginnings of psychology, most notably by William James in Varieties of Religious Experience. Quantum changes occur both within and (mostly) outside the context of psychotherapy and show certain common features in both process and content. (The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA. wrmiller@unm.edu)

The most beautiful thing happens to Jacob in that quantum change moment. God gives him a new name. He is now Israel. Keep this in mind and savor these points. 

  • All of Jacob’s doings and decisions had caught up with him, and his day had come to face the hard, the difficult.
  • Jacob sent all of his possessions and family away to safety and got alone with God. He on purpose and with action said, “I’m done.” Okay, that’s my interpretation. It just seemed he had to have the distractions away from him to finally deal with this issue.
  • Jacob was all in and asked God to bless him. Change me God. Help me God.
  • Jacob was willing to be broken to be healed. (You have to read the story to know what happens next, but he walked with a limp for the rest of his life.)

“He loves to take the broken and weak things of the world and make them beautiful for His glory.” (Angie Smith)

A limp beautiful? Oh, yes, my child. That limp in your walk is a reminder of your new name. We are reminded of the old things and feel consumed, but the journey is more about how quickly we can return to our new name, or wrestling with God! Read that again. That limp or scar is there. Yes we see it and you feel it, but listen to me–GOD IS USING YOUR LIMP FOR HIS GLORY! 

What is the name of your scar? What are the names you’ve given yourself, or others have spoken over you? It doesn’t have to be an ugly family story like Jacob’s. Did you know Jacob’s name means “heel-grabber” and “deceiver”?

My current Bible study with my teenage girls asked me to write out the names that you would rather change, and the names you’d rather claim.

I encourage you to take the time to do this.

Eye opening!

Names become internal messages that we live out. Our internal messages become how others respond to us. I can choose to speak life and love. I can choose to visualize love and joy even if I’m facing my “Esau (Jacob’s brother) and 400 men”. Easy? Nope. In fact, I was practicing this in my car when an 18-wheeler came up behind me on a mountain tailgating me. Let’s just say, after I yelled with my right hand up in the air waving at him, he backed off. I was proud that I refrained from cursing, but I was surprised at how quickly I went from, “Yes, love….” to “Really buddy, you are going to tailgate me on a mountain?!” while frantically waving my hand!  This moment was my example of being okay with the moment but quickly coming back to love, my new way, or name.

My Bible study goes on to share that “your reputation is not the same as your legacy.” (Angie Smith)

Well Glory to God! God can take a heel-grabbing deceiver and create something new– a new legacy in which Israel becomes a part of the lineage and the redemption story of God!

If God models this for us, we must make this a practice in our relationships.  Yes, your spouse or partner is not perfect, your colleague approaches tasks differently and makes mistakes, and yes, your neighbor seems quirky or different. How do you respond? Do you see their beauty? Do you connect through love? Can you visualize the possibilities verses constantly speaking the problems? I’m so thankful that God is all about growth mindset and loving me. I give Him reasons to give up on me every day, but in His mercy and love, He walks beside me, in front of me, and behind me showing me my possibilities based on the unique way He made me.

Lord, teach me to do this in the hard relationships around me.

I’m going to leave you with an amazing text I received from my friend. She’s one of those sisters who speaks life into your limp. She is doing a study called, “Uninvited” by Lysa TerKeurst. REALLY read this.

I can bring the atmosphere of love into every situation I face. I don’t have to wait for it, hope for it, or try to earn it. I simply bring the love I want. Then I’m not so tempted to flirt with the world, hoping for approval, because I have the real thing with God. And I’m not nearly as likely to fall into perceiving rejection that isn’t really there, because I’m not starving for affection. I am loved. This should be the genesis thought of every day. Not because of how terrific I am. God doesn’t base His thoughts toward me on my own fragile efforts. No, God’s love isn’t based on me. It’s simply placed on me.

His love in your limp and your wrestling can bring Glory to Him and love to the world around you. And, let me tell you something, and if you were sitting next to me, I would look you straight in the eyes, filled with tears, and with confidence and a whisper say this to you and me both:

Stop looking for love through approval, because we have the real thing with God.

WE. ARE. LOVED.

His love is not based on us, our past, or our future.

It is simple placed on us.

Maybe you’ve guessed my wrestling? It’s a familiar limp. I’ve been here before; however, God is so good to reveal an even deeper understanding in my new season of life. Quantum change is not a quick fix. It’s a process with lots of content to work on. Maybe it’s a lifetime of work.

“Their devotion showed me there were no versions of love there was only… Love. That it had no equal and that it was worth searching for, even if that search took a lifetime.”
― Jennifer Worth, The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times

 

 

 

 

 

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