A Place to Wrestle with God

A Place to Wrestle with God

Genesis 32:22-32
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

To wrestle with God and win.
Then Jacob, a name that means,
heel-grabber, or supplanter,
gets renamed, Israel, or God-Wrestler.
The place gets named,
Peniel, or God’s Face,
The new Israel gets a dislocated hip,
a permanent limp,
and the Israelites
never again eat hip muscle.
Names, names, names.
It makes me wonder
just how powerful are our names?
Not our given names,
but the actual naming we do.
We call ourselves names.
We call others names.
We are rarely complimentary with
the names we call ourselves—
and these are the nice ones.
It seems, though,
that names have power,
and the act of naming
has the power to change
the character of someone.
Jacob was a thief.
He stole Esau’s blessing.
Jacob became Israel.
One who wrestled with God.
What power
do we give to negative outcome,
and what power
do we actually unleash
in the naming we do?
I wonder
if we could actually
change the quality of our lives
if we began
renaming ourselves
in positive terms and adjectives.
What do you think?
What will yo do?



  1. That old childhood rhyme about sticks, stones, and names errs. Nasty remarks or the wrong name do hurt. I know: I’m transgendered.

    As for wrestling with God, all theologians do so, at least in regard to how to think about God. But I’ve come to the conclusion that the struggle has other aspects as well. IMHO, God is not really looking for placating and submissive behavior from inferior critters. I think the goal is cosmic companionship. We’re being given every opportunity for what has been called spiritual evolution, which might be better described as unfolding. The way a caterpillar pupates and then emerges as a butterfly. Fits with the Greek word for soul, psyche, which originally meant “moth.” Part of the process of maturation is the development of a strong sense of self and the ability to clearly state and respectfully defend one’s own point of view. Even to the point of arguing with God. We’re an emerging species, adolescent at most. It is our right to learn by challenging authority, even one as grand as God.
    Hillary, a personal note:
    I’m working on this process, writing forthcoming. Prof. Jeff Kripal, professor of comparative religion at Rice University, is very interested in what I’m doing. We’ve been corresponding for two years now.
    Also, I’ve moved back to SF and have on-line access. I’ll be in touch.

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