Today in church, pastor covered the story of Jacob wrestling for a blessing. When my AP students worked on a difficult task and wanted an easy answer, I’d tell them “wrestle with it.”
We like there are certain things we obtain by wrestling, struggling, and “earning” it. It’s true. There are certain things. And there are things we can’t earn.
My mother suffered from a degenerative, debilitating disease which currently has no cure. She was inevitably losing ability over time. Tasks she was capable of 25 she found difficult, sometimes impossible, at 45. Light exercise and eating right may help her body perform, but wrestling – wrestling wasn’t on her list of things she could do to improve her life.
Sometimes, our situation in life doesn’t call for wrestling. Sometimes instead we are meant to “nestle”, to seek comfort, to enjoy where we are regardless of what we can or can’t accomplish.
Corrie Ten Boom, a famous author, saw hard times as she lived in a family which housed and protected Jews in World War II and was imprisoned for it. She could have resigned to not sticking her neck out for anyone else as she sat incarcerated and flea bitten, but she resiliently kept on and lived a life of service. At age 86, she wrote “Don’t Wrestle, Just Nestle”, about overcoming fear and anxiety with trust.
Life doesn’t always have to about struggle, competition, or feeling we earn our way . Sometimes, our job is to “be still and know” that things are going to be okay. Sometimes our job is to submit to the mercies and grace of powers larger than our own. It’s hard not to struggle against what is.
Sometimes I fight so hard trying to make something happen that I lose my trust in the moment. I don’t relish the time I have near as much as I push toward the goal I think I can earn. With my mother, sometimes I wrestled so much trying to fix something for her that I saw the problem more than I saw her. I frustrated her because at times when she confided in me, I heard about one of her problems and all I focused on was trying to find a solution. Some of those problems weren’t fixable without a quick scientific epiphany. Instead of enjoying my time with her, just talking to her without feeling like I had to solve something, I tried make her a better “wrestler”.
Oh, the opportunities I missed to really talk with my mother when I tried to solve her problems instead…
She didn’t tell me how weak she felt at the end, the nightmares of suffocating, her shortness of breath. She told my father. He nestled her, comforted her as he held her in his arms. She was able to confide in him because he nestled her.
If we have a mentality where we want to wrestle the problems of our loved ones more than we want to nestle our loved ones, we miss the moments that could mean the most. We pass up the treasure to focus on the trouble. My mom retreated from confiding in me partially because I was problem focused. I wanted to be a solver. I trusted too much in my own power, and in in that grandiose trust, lost some power to share my love.
If I could go back to mom’s last year, I’d want to be told “Darcy, you can’t solve what ails your mother. But you can still love her. Don’t try to wrestle for her, or ask her to wrestle harder, just nestle her. Just love her, just hold her hand and listen.”
My mother was a beautiful person, and we had a great relationship. But I know I could have been better for her in the later years, better not by aptitude or skill, but better in caring, in taking the moments to just be still and trust the Engineer.
There are parts of life like riding a train through a tunnel, where we don’t have control and wrestling doesn’t gain a thing. I hope next time I find one of those moments, I’m wise enough to love on the person sitting next to me on the ride.