As a little girl, my father would often quote the phrase: "Your arms are too short to box with God." Being a member of a particularly smart-elic family, the children would then change the phrase slightly to: "your legs are too short to kick-box with God." You can imagine how annoying the four children might have been on an extended car trip, but I digress.
Like I wrote before, my father would often say, "Your arms are too short to box with God," particularly when his children would come to him with some complaint or when we felt angry. I would often imagine a small child wildly swinging her arms while an adult held the child back with one hand on her head. The quotation meant to me that in this particular situation it was futile to continue fighting.
The quotation would make me angry. How come I could not get my ears pierced at 13 like every body else? Why is my teacher so mean to me? Why do I have to do this or that? I would protest, but my father would just repeat the phrase. I think that it was his short-hand for: "stop fighting it, you are going to do it (or not do it), and if you continue in your whining, you might even get a spanking."
The phrase made me angry, but it also made me realize that sometimes you have to know when to stop fighting. You have to know when to start letting go of your anger, and really understand where you are standing. I can stand all day long, shaking my fist at the sky, shouting: "It's not fair!" And, indeed I would be right.
So much in life is not fair. Why can't my life be easy like that other person's life? He or she gets all the perks because ...(fill in the blank). I am getting pushed around. Mean people stink! Yes, your arms are too short to box with God.
I remember when I went in for a d and c after I found out that I had miscarried. In the hospital, I stepped into the bathroom, and I began to wail. I shook my fists. I wanted to know why was this happening to me. I am a good person. Why was this happening? I did not want another surgery. The nurse knocked on the door, so I let her in. She saw my tears, and she just shook her head. She understood, but it was time.
My arms were too short to box with God. Bad things happen, even when I do not want to believe it. I can spend all day giving a litany of wrong doing or I can accept that I do not have control over anyone but myself. I can accept that indeed evil occurs, but I will not be the judge of it. People may have false motives and they may lie, but it is not my battle. My arms are tired.
I can look at these disappointments and become angry and bitter, but why? I would love at times to be righteously indignant, but what good would that do for me? Sometimes the fight is over before we even start. We never even had a fair shot, but the fight is still over, and like I said, my arms are tired.
Our arms are tired. Now when I picture this image, I see it in a different way. I see a child wildly swinging her arms, but the adult is not holding her at arms distance. The adult is holding her tightly as she rages. Soon, the little one tires and slumps into the adults arms, and she is cradled and safe.
Often, that is the situation. We encounter pain, adversity, those unfair moments of life, and we can rage. We can be angry as long as we can keep swinging, but maybe the fight is over. Maybe it is time to rest in those loving arms, and through those bleary, teary eyes see where we actually stand.
We stand on holy ground, in the arms of our father.