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My Wrestling Match With God

alec vanderboom

(The post in which I explain why I love going to the movies in times of trouble and why I'm grateful that my children spend so many hours playing video games).

I took a mental break from my awful moving experience last week and went to see the premier of Exodus, a Hollywood epic about the story of Moses. In the movie, I learned that the name "Israel" means "wrestled with God." A character in the movie comments about how strange it is that the Jewish people see themselves as a people who "wrestle with God" and see that active struggle as a positive thing. In my head, I took so much comfort from that bit of dialogue. In my life as a Christian, its an active struggle to get a blessing from God. It's not this easy mental journey where "Oh, I decide to live life for Christ" at an Easter Vigil twelve years ago. It is a daily wrestling match to get through the challenges of life, the same struggles that everyone else has, with peace and dignity and love. Loving God feels like a wrestling match on the hard days.

On Friday, 72 hours before the scheduled closing date for my home sale, my buyer back out due to a lack of financing. Lots of poor people have this happen to them. Here is where my experience is slightly odd. My buyer got fired for cause 72 hours before she was supposed to sign for a new home loan. "For cause" is a my ex-lawyer legalize term which means "for a darn good reason." My buyer lied to her employer. She lied to her bank on her mortgage application. She also said a lot of lies to us and everyone around us.

When the Truth finally showed up, I had 90% of my belongings packed in neatly labeled cardboard boxes. I had turned off the power and water to my home.

The Truth is always good. However, sometimes it feels like God's timing sucks and I end up crying about Truth's arrival in my shower.

At 5 PM Friday night, I had another house showing for a new prospective buyer. There was a stack of moving boxes in my living room. There was no light in that area of the house because my beautiful sea horse lamps for that room where still packed in our storage locker. I put my six kids and the dog in our car and started driving around town, counting down the minutes before the home showing would be over.

At 5:01, I got a ring on my cellphone. I pulled over to a safe spot in the road and shifted into park. I picked up my cellphone and called my husband back. He told me "The showing got pushed back until 5:30!'

"Are you kidding me?" I answered.

"The guy got hung up at work. What do you expect?"

"I'm in a car with six kids and a dog. Our 10 week old newborn is currently wailing in his car seat. Can you hear him? Do you know where we can go in the middle of a cold winter night with a crying newborn and a dog? No where! We're driving around town together waiting for this showing to be over already!"

I hung up the phone.

The only way I'm getting through the emotions of this move is by practicing honesty with my kids. I started speaking my feelings out loud. I said "I know what I'm supposed to to do. I'm supposed to let God handle revenge. "Vengeance is mine says the Lord." But I'm really having trouble in this moment not wanting to kill someone."

In a moment of brutal moment of humility I told my kids the truth. I felt so mad. I knew what I was feeling was not good, but I had no idea how to get myself to where God wanted me to be.

My kid spoke up from the back of the car, "Mom, it's legal to kill someone in Minecraft!"

There was this beautiful chorus of support from my four gamer children. "Yeah Mom! You should join us on the Xbox. You can hack and stab and kill as many people as you want. It's all legal and you won't go to jail!"

My kids handed me a golden key out of my resentment. I was cold. I was exhausted. I was sore and frustrated. But in the dark winter night, I could picture a time when I could get out of the car. I could take a hot shower. I could drink a glass of wine. I could go upstairs and play a video game with some of the four people I love best in the world. It was a prescription for self-soothing that seemed to take the sting out of a bad day.

I'm so grateful for my imperfectly perfect children and my imperfectly perfect spouse and my imperfectly perfect life.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!