Wrestling Into Embrace

Maybe it’s your spouse. Maybe your lifelong friend. Or your parent or your child, your coworker, your boss — but there’s this one area where you find yourself trapped in a loop of unresolved tension…

It happens again. Somewhere mid-conversation, we realize that we are stuck in that familiar pattern we both loathe. We love each other, but we hate this well-rehearsed script. Sucked into a quagmire of old wounds and new failed attempts at breaking this spell, we reach for each other with one hand while the other keeps slapping and clawing like an agent independent from our will.

Down we both go till the harsh landing in our separate corners. Disoriented, we begin to grasp for understanding. What just happened? Again.

In my part of the equation, accumulated voices from books and blogs and research and friends one by one take the witness stand of my mind and speak their wisdom. Internally, I’m impetuously rushing towards resolution, somehow trying to set the pace of the process like an audiobook on double speed.

But that, too, is a familiar pattern that has never brought the desired outcome.

Genesis 32: 24-26

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

– Is that You, God, wrestling me through this knotted-up situation?

– Is Your intention to injure me so that I may injure others less?

– Do You want me to fight with as much tenacity as Jacob did, or to just wave the white flag in surrender?

It’s not like I hear an audible voice, but something inside begins to dislodge. It was that hidden something that has taken up residence in my body — an unresolved feeling of abandonment, a sense of rejection I’ve internalized. Whenever these types of tension arise, they’re usually tied to a deeper ache.

I can’t always see it, but God can.

The weight of His presence presses in on my own understanding, and a shivering reverence reveals that this is of far greater importance to Him than I had grasped. Neither of the hurting hearts in this precious relationship is pure — and neither intentionally unkind.

We are dust grappling with the divine.

While it’s true that “To err is human; to forgive, divine,” (Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism, Part II , 1711), more than forgiveness is needed here.

Krista Bugden’s article about muscle adhesions, which was published on Sidekick, enlightens:

“Over time, repeatedly bad posture can create adhesions. The muscles and related tissues are placed under stress time and time again. … In turn, this stress can create micro-tears in the muscles. Your body fixes them by laying down scar tissue. Scar tissue is strong and supportive. It’s a natural part of our body’s healing process. Yet, it may leave you stuck with a giant knot in your back or shoulder that you just can’t shake. And ultimately, it leads to more pain.”

He, who created the visible realm to illustrate the invisible reality, now shows me my emotional scar tissue that limits my relational range of motion. Without the agony of this sore situation, I might not have been open to the surgery of first facing the mirror-tears of my own pride and control, and then willingly welcoming His wrestling grip.

Pain is a phenomenal motivator.

Deeper still, affection for the other bleeds an authentic desire to do whatever it takes to restore our fractured oneness.

Deepest, though, is the wise design of God, who uses our closest encounters to free us from ourselves and with surgeon precision cut off what hinders His image in our souls from full mobility.

In Biblical Hebrew, only the first sound of the word distinguishes “wrestle” from “embrace.” I first learned this from Beth Moore at IFLead 2020, and the realization is continually taking root in me and sprouting a whole new awareness. According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, “wrestle” (#79. אָבַק) is “abaq.” On the other hand, “embrace” (#2263) is“chabaq.”

When our grabbling for understanding from each other becomes an endeavor with our Creator to tackle those blindspots that repeatedly trip us up, not only do we then desire to walk back to the situation with a posture to embrace; we walk back with the humility it requires.

Hidden in old injuries are shadow names of failure, rejection, and shame. These are what shout at each other in these deadlocked patterns – until…

Genesis 32: 24-26

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be _________ (fill in your own blank), but “Triumphant with God”, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”(Translation by James P. Boyd, Bible Dictionary, Ottenheimer Publishers, 1958.)

We will grapple again, my loved ones and I, and then God and I. But each time, we detangle a bit better from each other and return a tad sooner and more eagerly to the wrestling mat with God.

Though I always dread the limping at first, I’m learning that it sweetens and strengthens the embrace.

Deuteronomy 33:26-27a

“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,

Who rides the heavens to help you,

And in His excellency on the clouds.

The eternal God is your refuge,

And underneath are the everlasting arms;

[title Wrestling into Embrace]

[category Come Fill the Gap]

[tags Genesis 32, Deuteronomy 33, conflict, resolution, blindspots, peacemaking, forgiveness, soul care, inner healing, wrestling, embrace, Beth Moore]


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