Call Me Israel

Jacob Wrestling

Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.

When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.

Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”

So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.”

Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.”

 (Genesis 32:24-28, part of a reading for Pentecost 21C)

It must have been quite a night. Jacob sent his family across the river ahead of him: his wives, his children, his servants, his livestock, all his property as a highly mobile desert patriarch. Was he looking for peace and quiet, or did he anticipate a struggle, or an opportunity?

In the middle of the night, at mid-life or really past it as I edge toward 50, I am struggling with God in the night and trying to call it an opportunity. How am I a different person than I was ten years ago? Or than I was at 24, the age of my oldest child, the age I became his mother? (A terrifying thought! Who ever rated me ready to care for an infant when I was so young myself?)

We’re shifting at home, readjusting our view of what life had been, trying to see what the future will be and bring. I have a new call, and a very sick dog, and my marriage is over.

I am striving with God and humans.

I wake in the night, and I wonder what’s next? And I look back at this year and I think I can never call it the worst year ever, no matter what, because my second son flew out of a car and lived, because all three of my children are wonderful, because I found out who really cares about me, and because two people who cannot live together anymore are doing their best to be merciful about it while caring for a beloved pet who is likely nearing his end.

But like Jacob, I am out of joint, and I may walk with a limp. So call me Israel.

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32 thoughts on “Call Me Israel

  1. Annabel (Mrs Redboots)

    *Huggles* Poor Martha, I am so, so sorry. I like Susan Howatch’s translation of Romans 8:28 that God “intermingles all things for good”. It doesn’t gloss over the horrid bits or try to make them easier or nicer. They are there and they are horrid; but God will bring good out of it somehow. I think one is allowed to ask to be shown how, too.

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  2. Mary Beth

    Barely breathing. Feel as though I am standing on holy ground nearby the wrestling but unable to step in and help in the fight because, really, no one can. But here I stand.
    And oh, your writing glows; it is back, you are back.

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  3. Rev Dr Mom

    ((((((Martha))))))
    The great myth, I think, is that we ever arrive at the place where we are what we will be; indeed, we are always becoming. And the great reality is that becoming is painful more often than not. The image of Jacob wrestling with the angel and coming out marked as different is an apt one, I think. His limp, and yours, are holy.
    Prayers for you as you go through this difficult and painful time, and may God’s overwhelming love hold you up.

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  4. Elizabeth Malcolmson

    The one positive thought I had in the midst of the two terrible endings you are facing is that your new church is very, very blessed — you will be forged by fire, I think, into an even more amazing pastor than they had already chosen. I hope they recognize that. Hugs to you and Sam.

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  5. The Simpleton

    My prayers and thoughts and hugs are with you, whom I have never met but share so much with. The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your heart and mind in union with the Christ.

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  6. Lauralew

    Prayers always. Went back and read many of your previous posts with this new knowledge in mind, and suddenly all is clear. Hugs and love to you, and keep singing.

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  7. earthchick

    Thinking of limping, and of scars, I remembered this passage from the book Little Bee:
    On the girl’s brown legs there were many small white scars. I was thinking, Do those scars cover the whole of you, like the stars and the moon on your dress? I thought that would be pretty too, and I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.
    Who knows where your limp will take you from here, but you have survived and more than survived, and how wonderful that you can look back on this year with such gratitude for a child’s miraculous survival, for three wonderful children, and for the love of so many friends.
    Much love to you.

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  8. Susan

    I hope that all the love in the ethernets is a comfort to you, Martha, as you navigate all these changes, and enjoy your wonderful Sam, and continue to rejoice in your children. You’re not alone!

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  9. Jayne

    So just bottle up all the love you see pouring out over you and keep it for times when you need to dab a little on your wrists and neck. Always be reminded of the fact that YOU are amazing and so very loved my friend. Always here. XOXO

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  10. Kathryn

    Reading all the loving comments, and trying to find a way to frame my own…Yesterday I was at a cme (cont ed) event where we were shown a fantastic ikon of Jacob & Esau reunited…They were embracing…but under foot were weapons, and perhaps they were wrestling after all. I’m praying that your wrestling with God and with life will yield embraces unlooked for…And like everyone else, I’d be privileged to limp beside you. Best love as always, my very dear friend.

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  11. net

    ((((Martha)))) Praying for you, for Sam, for your children. I am so sorry. Thank you for being the gracious, loving and compassionate lady that you are. We have your back.

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