Conflict of any type is so difficult; however, family conflict is probably one of the most common types of conflict we can face. There are so many factors that could play a role into why that is, but I think one of the main reasons is because we live with our family. We don't put on any masks with our family because we can just be who we are with our family. But that honesty can also create conflict. A common phrase we hear about families is "dysfunctional." I want to say that from my personal observation, there are very few people who feel like they have grown up in a family that isn't dysfunctional. So, that makes me wonder if everyone's family is as bad as they think or is dysfunctional the norm? I remember in college, my music therapy professor telling our class that we were at an age where we think our parents are messed up and they made way too many mistakes with us. But he continued to tell us that as we grow up and mature, we will see that our parents and family were not as bad as we thought. Over the years as I have occasionally reflected on that, I think that conflict within the family alone doesn't mean dysfunction. Because, conflict can sometimes bring better results as we talk it out and forgive and love each other. I think it is how we handle conflict within the family that creates dysfunction. Today, I want to look at the beginning of Joseph's story and consider the family's response to their conflict. Please read Genesis 37:1-11.
Joseph was the second youngest out of all his brothers, yet he found himself in a favored position. Genesis 37:3 tells us that Jacob favored Joseph because he was born to him while he was old. But, Joseph wasn't always the wisest in how he handled being around his brothers. We are not told if he was proud or just not thinking, but he decided to share with his brothers his dream about the bundles of grain bowing before his bundle of grain. At this point, his brothers already had issues with Joseph and this was something that definitely didn't help. Then Joseph shared another dream about the sun and moon and stars bowing before him. Even his father scolded him for talking about the dream. But, there is still a difference because while his brothers became consumed with jealousy of Joseph, Jacob wondered what it all meant.
What we are reading here is some dysfunction that would shape the future of Israel. Joseph was highly favored and Jacob was not shy about showing it. Joseph's brothers hated him and could never say anything kind about him. This is an unhealthy response to conflict. You see, every family faces conflict, but in most families we still love each other. In this family, the brothers responded to conflict with hatred. There was no forgiveness or love that held them together. There was severe dysfunction among the sons of Jacob. Do you face dysfunction in your family? Do you respond to your family with dysfunction? It doesn't have to be that way. You have Christ living in you and He can help you heal and forgive. He can give you a love for the people in your family. Just because your family responds with hate or hurt, you don't have to. God is a God of love and forgiveness.
How are you responding to your family?
This post is linked with Sharing His Beauty and Monday Musings.