The hot Georgia air was thick that day in the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of high school; the southern sun made it even harder to breath. I practically ran to the car, my mother stumbling after me, and I sobbed into the passenger side window as soon as I was safe, buckled inside.
“How could my friends be so mean to me?” I asked her.
It’s been ten years since that day, and I can still feel the hot tears on my cheeks. I can still smell the leather paneled onto the arm rest of my mom’s shotgun seat.
We are rarely ever prepared for the moments that actually touch us. And sometimes we spend our entire lives trying to downplay a memory, saying things like, “It’s normal to lose people in high school,” and “I can just move on,” when really, we’re twenty-five and still having to go to counseling to figure out why we can’t sit safely trust in our relationships today.
No, we don’t get a warning sign on the road map of our lives that says: “THIS IS GOING TO MEAN SOMETHING.” But it all stays with us just the same. Until we are worn out and confused about why we’re so exhausted and why there are so many fires in our life; the questions and grief can quickly turn to an unwelcome bitterness and anger before we can even walk back through to process what we’ve survived.
Because we are surviving—we now have to choose how to live with it.
So we don’t bring things up anymore; we stop talking about our pain either because we don’t know what to do with it and don’t want to face it long enough to get through it, or worse—the world tells us to put away childish things, that we should be better by now; the trauma is normalized to the point of our feeling guilt over thinking about it at all. And if we’re being honest—sometimes it’s the world and the church that tells us that we can’t keep picking up that burden, that we have to stop picking at that scar, and that the only thing we should be blasting through the megaphone of our lives is our hope.
Which is why I love the story of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32, because in this encounter, we catch a glimpse of the eyes God sees our brokenness through in the greatest plot twist of all time: when God looks at our pain, He doesn’t see what the world sees because when He takes in our brokenness, He accounts for its purpose.
In Genesis 32, we find an anxious Jacob about to face confrontation over hurt he had caused, headed in a direction he thought he would never have to walk again: back to the source of his mess. On the road, he is approached by a strange man who begins to wrestle with him. At the end of the passage, it’s revealed that Jacob was, in fact, wrestling with God in the desert.
Now, while there’s a lot to unpack in this story about the character of God, but let’s focus on the ending.
Jacob and God wrestle, arguing in the thick of things; God, of course, ends up winning, but only after first blessing Jacob with a new name—“Israel.” And then God brings the match to an end, as we read in verse 31, and the man Jacob was wrestling with reaches out his hand and breaks Jacob’s hip. From that day on, Jacob walks with a limp.
If we aren’t careful, we’ll miss the reality and grace for us in Jacob’s story. If we trade God’s perspective for our own fears or the opinions of people around us, we’ll convince ourselves that acknowledging (let alone talking about) our “limp” we’ve nursed since brokenness bouldered into our life is a failure on our part. It’s easy to convince ourselves, “Oh, I’m not supposed to have a “limp” anymore from this, I guess I should hide it,” or, “They don’t want to hear about or see my “limp” anymore, everyone else has moved on,” and even, “I can’t talk about my “limp” because it takes away from God’s victory in my life.”
Darling, God didn’t say any of that to Jacob when Jacob walked away dragging His foot. God didn’t expect Jacob to stand tall with a broken hip. God didn’t view Jacob’s limp as a personal faith failure.
No, this encounter was so impactful and crucial to the Jewish history that Jewish culture no longer eats the hips of animals because it was the hip that was touched by God.
Your limp is holy.
Your limp is not a reminder of what you lost—it’s a reminder of how God touched you.
That’s why we’re here: because we want to slow down and acknowledge what God did in your life when you got your brokenness. And we want to give you the space you need to move from “I can’t talk about this,” to “Yes, I have this limp, so come see how God touched me.”
This is the place where hurt and hope can coexist; this is where hurt and hope must coexist. We can’t ignore our brokenness without also denying how God moved. So, lead with your hurt, unbridled—you never know who else is going to need all the ways God touched you in your pain.
Jenna is a 23 year old storyteller, wife, taco connoisseur, apologist, and hair-dye enthusiast. She asks a lot of questions and quotes a lot of Kanye. Right now she’s learning about becoming fluent in God’s language of hope. You’ll enjoy her abstract writing that’s filled with hope and a truly poetic bend. To learn more about Jenna, follow her on IG.