My husband and I have a long tradition in our relationship, dating back to the early days of our courtship. I firmly believe that, were it not for this tradition, we would not be the couple we are today. Perhaps, we wouldn't even be married. It has helped us to show affection, to avert unnecessary arguments, to force laughter in difficult situations, and to remember to have fun, even as "grown ups." This tradition is a weekly, if not daily, occurrence in our home, and our lives would feel empty without it.
It is, in name: the tickle fight.
It usually begins rather innocently - a poke in the belly button as we pass in the hallway or a mischievous glance from across the room. But it doesn't take long for the chaos to emerge. Laughing, screaming, poking, running. The battle begins!
I win, every time.
Mainly because he lets me... because, ironically enough, I HATE to be tickled. He knows this, and so he ends up acting like he's going to tickle me but never actually doing it.
I'm very grateful for his mercy.
Yet I always hold it over his head that I have not suffered one defeat.
Still, as much as we love this laughter in our home, we have learned one rule that we refuse to break: never do it in front of Chloe.
Being less than two years old, she doesn't understand that it's all in fun. She doesn't get that we're just doing it to show affection. To her, it's loud and scary daddy beating up poor and pitiful mommy.
We learned this once, accidentally, and we decided we never want to scare her like that again. So we wait until she's in bed or at Grandma's house - at least, for now. Because eventually, she will come to love the game as much as we do. She will shoot a sneaky look at daddy, or poke mommy in the rib cage, and the tickling will commence! She will laugh, and scream, and poke, and run, and love every minute of it.
I know this because I remember doing it as a child. Merle, my stepdad, was the BEST at tickle fights. My brother and I would "pounce" on him while he was watching TV and the giggles and laughs would fill the house.
He too would let us win. Our goal, usually, was to roll him off the couch and into the floor so we could take his spot on the comfy furniture. He would put up a good long fight until FINALLY, he would roll off the couch, screaming and yelping the whole way. We were victorious! Again!
Those are some of my fondest memories from my childhood, and should Chloe choose to follow in my footsteps in this area, I'm sure it will be some of hers.
But for now, she's little, and she doesn't understand that it's fun. To her, it's scary and loud.
And as I think about her scared little eyes that day, watching mommy and daddy "fight," I am reminded of my first "fight" with the Lord. I remember the first time I began to trust the Lord for something something I knew He could do. I remember the fear in my heart and terror in my mind when He said "no" or "wait." And I remember being so hurt and angry - and scared - because it didn't happen in the timing that I wanted and in the way that I thought was best. All I could see was mean scary God beating up on poor pitiful me.
But now I'm older in my walk, and there have been several fights between me and the Lord. Like Israel, I too have "wrestled" with God in my prayer time for a blessing that HE has promised to me or to someone I love.
And as I have grown in His love and mercy, I have moved away from fearing those "wrestling matches," and I have even come to appreciate the intimacy and strength that comes from those "fights" with Him. Those times of intercession, of fervent prayer, and of gut-wrenching pleas have taught me more about the mercy and goodness of God than any sermon I've ever heard.
Because He lets me win, always. It's not always when I want or how I want, but it's always for my benefit. And in the process of teaching me how to win, the Lord is close to me, showing me affection, and helping me to laugh at the most difficult of circumstances.
These are the things I am reminded of today, when I am wrestling with God over so many areas in my life. And I am so grateful that we have a daddy-God who is willing to let me win, even when I am not strong enough.
He's so good to me. So good.