“I will not let you go unless you bless me… Then he blessed him there.” Genesis 32:26,29
Words from Streams in the Desert pronounce that Jacob won the victory not by wrestling but by clinging. I love that. The faith required to give up the struggle, to trust, and cling. Weary from the fight, relinquishing to the victor but not letting go, not losing or giving in.
Harken back to the wrestling match I had with God soon after I started working as child psychiatrist at a 300 child welfare agency. The shock I experienced day after day, child after child, as they came with their stories of abuse. Physical beatings, burnings, days without food and the expected favor of sex for a parent, family friend or the drug dealer bringing heroin and crack into their home.
At first there was shock, then anger. Anger at the perpetrator. Anger at the system that perpetuates abuse. Anger at the agencies getting funded for treating six year olds instead of six day olds. Anger at a state that demanded custody of a child before they would treat them residentially. Anger at the prisons and homeless shelters that continue to be built to house the mentally ill and drug addicted. They can’t maintain stability because they have an abuse rate of over 80% yet still do not get treatment. Anger, anger anger.
Some at myself as well. Angry that I had to witness this day after day but couldn’t change it. Couldn’t stop it because so few believed. And lots of anger at God. Incredulity. Suspiciousness.
Then came the challenge, the wrestling, “I could have done better Lord, than this creation of yours.” Ha, how He must have laughed at me. I hope so. I’m laughing too now.
Recently, the longest standing Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert has been indicted for lying to the FBI about banking practices. He also had an alleged sexual relationship with a male minor during his tenure as teacher and wrestling coach. The primary response from his friends and colleagues is, “It can’t be, he was such an ethical, good leader,” Perhaps, Mr. Hastert is a good, honest leader and yes, he probably is a child perpetrator. He gives us $3.5 million reasons to doubt his innocence. A great person can do evil and it looks like the former Speaker of the House has done so. Here are two more probable victims of child sexual abuse that were never reported. Another perpetrator not on the registry.
I’ve grown to understand that the rate of child sexual abuse is higher than the reported 1 in 3. But I no longer marvel. I’m no longer angry. I understand humanity and evil in a more mature manner. And so I do not wrestle with my Lord but I do cling. Clinging tightly, praying for mercy for all sinners, myself, perpetrators and all victims of child abuse and neglect. I pray and cling until I receive my blessing and even then I am reluctant to release and let go.