We don’t get to see each other often but when we do we make it count. There’s usually a handful of things said between “safe friends” that are utterly ridiculous. By ridiculous, I mean hilarious. Then the conversation always shifts to God and the pursuit of Him with every fiber of who we are. In our forties, we can be both rooted deeply in our faith and utterly ridiculous. We are 100% okay with that because we’ve fought dang hard to like who we’ve become.
I become quiet and listen to her. That’s what we do best, we listen to the words that haven’t been spoken yet. And, sometimes I say the brave words for her and she says mine.
I found myself fangirling my friend who has been a woman underneath a controlling thumb for most of her life. The men she loved most required her to be small and less. Heaven forbid if somewhere in the space of manipulative abuse she actually figured out that she was destined for more- she is worth all the kind words any good-hearted man can find and all the ones he can’t.
When I told her she was the proud owner of her story and she could tell it any way she wanted, she shook her head and said, “I made a vow to honor him in public. I fear God and know I will be accountable for every word.”
I, on the other hand, wanted to hunt him down and pummel him multiple times as I watched my friend lay to rest the death of her abusive marriage and learn to stand taller than her five-foot-three frame allows.
What kind of woman honors an unhonorable man? A godly woman who wrestled in the dark alone and found out on her own that she is anything but small and unworthy. Whether it’s words or angry hands, calling abuse what it really is scary. Because manipulation points to the abused and tells us that it was our fault, that somehow we deserved it. BUT NOT ANYMORE. No one holds us verbally underneath a heavy hand of reckless words without our permission.
Women who pursue Jesus and healing are bound to figure out their worth eventually. And she did and she is free. But even still I watch this strong woman in ministry, incredible mother and friend, take a backseat in the car she’s supposed to be driving. Let me just brag about her, she is in the driver’s seat ninety percent of the time now, but I’m gutsy enough to push for that last ten for her. I’m gutsy enough to push for the last ten for all of us.
I call out this behavior in both of us over a casual meal because even as women who have been set free, we apologize politely and dismiss the destiny that is rightfully ours.
“But, why do we still do this?,” I asked.
“As good little, firstborn broken girls we have even given God an out to His promises. It’s time for us to not to that.”
My strong reply hung in the air, even taking me by surprise.
God doesn’t need an out. He needs us to believe Him. Did Jacob apologize for wrestling in the dark for his blessing and duking it out with an angel? Refusing to let go his death grip overpowered the angel. Do I think that angel could have whipped him, I truly do. But, I think a gutsy desperation for blessing deserves a reward and on the other side of that, a blessing like that requires an exhausting wrestling match that leads to a breakthrough.
We stop short because wrestling is hard, we say pretty please then let go right before our miracle happens. Most of the time we are looking for something to hold in our hands, visible proof of an answered prayer and the things we long for. My friend is the miracle she’s prayed for. Who she has is the greatest legacy that will live on through the many lives she has touched, but most importantly, to the four young adults who call her Mom.
Sometimes I blame Southern hospitality for teaching us to “be sweet” when we want to tell people (who don’t really care at all) what we really think. But, I wouldn’t trade this freedom that I walk in for all the sweet tea and hugs-around-the-necks in the world. Nice is good. Nice with a backbone is better.
We are all taking the backseat when it comes to living our lives and owning our story, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. It’s one thing when we allow Jesus to take the lead, but it’s another when we forfeit our keys because someone wants to control us. Jesus isn’t like that. He laid down his life for us and wants an invitation in with a seat right next to us. He wants all of us. The wet tears at his feet, the hot-mess and costly (or cheap perfume) we pour over him as a gift.
In Genesis 32:22 we find Jacob sending his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons over a brook while he was left alone. With two wives and eleven sons, I can’t imagine the noise level and madness that came from so many voices, so many needs, and only one of him. Lord knows that man needed some personal space. Jacob, whose name meant deceiver, needed to be all alone in the dark to meet with God face-to-face.
It’s hard to be the ones who wrestle. And yet, deeper purpose runs through us, transforming us, when we have been left alone to wrestle in the dark. Sometimes all we need to do is get out of the way and let God do His thing. We grasp aimlessly at the nothingness wanting a sword or whatever we can place in our hands to fight off the enemy of our souls, our destiny, and our name-change-moment. Yet in Jacob’s empty-handed moment, it was just two strong hands against another’s in face-to-face combat.
“Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.” (Vs 24)
And the Man could not prevail, this angel of The Lord, had to throw Jacob’s hip out of joint.
Angel: “Let me go, for the day breaks.”
Jacob: “I will not let You go until you bless me.”
What’s your name?
“My name is Deceiver.”
That’s not your name anymore. This is your name: Israel; for you have wrestled with God and with men, and have prevailed.
The wrestle is always worth it. The wrestle is what makes us great. But, it’s lonely, isn’t it? Yet that process of becoming who we are when it’s just Jesus and us wrestling is our greatest, untold story. One day you won’t have to be so fearful and careful when you actually share it.
To be set free we must first admit that we are not. Those who limp fly higher than those who avoid divine wrestling matches. God is waiting to change your name to “favored one” and “one who is too big to fit underneath a thumb”.
Wrestle for that ten percent, or whatever your percentage is. The wrestle is worth the end result of freedom and blessing. But, know that your wrestle is not with the person that hurt you and made you smaller.
Don’t settle for almost whole.
Happy Galentine’s Day to my favorite gals!
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