The one time I want a chatty seat mate on the train, the auntie next to me seems more intent on cleaning out her chana daal snack packet than plying me with the usual questions. I snap up every small chance she throws me, over wording my answers, giving more information than is required. Anything to keep my eyes from the monsoon-lush scenery slipping by the train tracks. Scenery that for so long has meant home, arrival, close. Now it means leaving, far, away.
I wrestled God so hard about this place. I begged to be released to leave. I prayed often not another month longer! Every time I pleaded, though, He whispered, “Just a little bit longer, a little bit longer, dear one”. Until my complaints fell away. Until the aversion was replaced by a steady, hard-won peace and pleasure.
And now that I’m leaving, it feels like my very lungs are attached to the buildings we’re passing – stretching out an impossible distance. Someone is squeezing my heart so hard it is squirting out my eyes.
I realize by the auntie’s huffy sigh that I’m asking about all of her relatives’ occupations for a second time. I give up the distraction scheme and turn to watch the River – broad and muddy and swirling – disappear beneath us. I marvel how my initial hatred has turned to such deep hurt at leaving.
I wonder if I should regret all that time wasted being argumentative, but instantly I know better. I think there had to be a wrestle before there was love. And I don’t think Jacob regretted the limp once he got the name Israel.
Mental note to my future self: The next time you find yourself in a place you don’t want to be or circumstances you find impossible, the next time there is wrestling to be done, wrestle with everything you’ve got. Throw your very self into the fray and stay. When every fiber in your being wants to run, when every last tendon aches with the strain of the fight – suck in a painful breath and wrestle on. There is so much grace on the other side of faithful, love you did not even imagine.
Maybe you will come away beat up – but I guarantee you won’t regret the limp.