Monday, December 16, 2013

Joseph and Me

I've always loved the story of Joseph... How God could build something so amazing from such desolation. And how, even in the midst of pain and betrayal, God was with Joseph, guiding him to where he needed to be. I've always thought Joseph was amazing. To be so faithful and patient when everything inside of him must have been screaming at him to finally give in to the anger he must have felt. There had to have been moments when he wanted to give up and strike out at those who hurt him. But he didn't.

I wish I was more like Joseph. I wish I was better at reining in my anger, even when I feel betrayed. Since all this stuff with my mom happened I've felt that even more. I've felt the rebuke in Joseph's reactions compared to mine. I've felt like a failure in many ways. And I've wondered if even leaving aside my initial explosive reaction to what I see as complete betrayal, maybe my decision to live my life without her is wrong too. After all, Joseph forgave his family, and they sold him into slavery!

I've prayed about it. A lot. But I always find it really difficult to discern between my desires and God's voice, especially when they seem to match up. I worry that I'm drowning out His words with my own emotions. I don't want to see her. I don't think it's good for any of us. I told her sorry for the things I'm sorry for, but I'm not sorry for being angry with her. And I know that, as things stand, if I see her I'm going to be angry again. I don't want to be angry. I just want it to all go away.

So, I've worried that I'm fooling myself by feeling that I can forgive her without having to reconcile with her, and without having to be okay with everything that has happened, and will happen. (It will. I know it will.) And without having to try to be her friend again.

A few months ago, I've been meaning to write this down for a while now, something happened that put my heart's fears to rest. I heard this song. Actually, I've heard it before, but a few months ago it spoke to me. I think God spoke to me. I think He told me, again, that it was okay.

Bend - Brandon Heath

I am not my family tree
These are different leaves, you know
There are miles and miles between
My roots and what I’m trying to grow

I am not the slave they sold
Nor am I royalty
I’ve worn them both, the finest coat
And rags that barely cover me

But there’s mercy in the soil, mercy in the sun
Learning to forgive, what cannot be undone
And what was meant to harm can’t harm you in the end
Stepped out on a limb I thought might break
But Love said, it will only bend; It will only bend.

I am not my past mistakes
Labelled by some place and time
Nor am I trophy case
Trying to maintain my shine

I have dreamed a thousand dreams
Watched a grain in famine, grow
I am not my family tree
I have branches of my own

But there’s mercy in the soil, mercy in the sun
Learning to forgive, what cannot be undone
And what was meant to harm can’t harm you in the end
Stepped out on a limb I thought might break
But Love said, it will only bend; It will only bend.

Oh, does fate resign us to
Find shelter for our wounds
Beneath the battered roof of broken dreams?
Oh, but I will choose to stand
In the shadow of Your hand
And see what grows when Grace has sown the seed
I still think Joseph was amazing, most of all because of how he forgave. And I think God wants me to forgive her. I think He wants me to see the person that is hurting who hurt me. I think He wants me to let go of the bitterness. I know He does. And I do too. I don't want to end up spewing it into the lives of the people around me because I've let it take over my heart. I can do that, I think, with God's help. I am doing that.

But I can't see a way to let my mom into my life right now. And I think God is saying to me that that's okay. Because I'd never thought of something till I listened to this song. Joseph did forgive his family, and then he did the thing I can't. He was reunited with them, and they were a family again.

But there is something different about Joseph's story and mine. (Well, there are LOTS of things that are different. I get that what I've gone through is nothing compared to Joseph. I'm not deluded, after all.) The main bit that's different though, is that Joseph saw a change in his brothers. He saw remorse first of all, when they first met again in Egypt. And then he saw change, huge change, when they refused to sacrifice Benjamin to save themselves because they knew it would hurt their father. They saw their wrong, and they weren't willing to repeat it.

For now, I think it's okay that I keep my distance. I haven't seen any remorse, and none of us have seen any change. So for now, I think it's okay. I'm not saying it will always be okay this way, or anything like "I'm never speaking to her again." I'm saying I'm done for now, and until I see change, or even the teeniest bit of remorse, I'll stay done.