Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | August 10, 2017

Thicker than blood

We often hear people talk about biblical family values. Obviously, those folks haven’t read the actual Bible. The families there are full of favoritism, treachery, lies, cheating, even murder—or attempted murder, as in the story of Joseph and his brothers. (Read it here.)

Joseph is Jacob’s (aka Israel’s) 11th son, and his favorite. You’d think Jacob, of all people, would realized that favoring one child over another isn’t good parenting, since his own parents did that with him and Esau. Or maybe it just is a pattern he knows and can’t escape.

The favoring of Joseph nearly costs his life, and it leads his siblings down a horrible moral path.

We know that families can be schools of kindness, love, friendship, growth.  They can also be schools of meanness, favoritism, dysfunction, sometimes even abuse, as we see here. Most families are inhabited by both good and bad characteristics. Our actions, both good and bad, often have unforeseen consequences, both good and bad.

Joseph’s father Jacob wounds him and the other sons with his favoritism.

Joseph wounds his brothers with his ego and by playing up that favoritism.

The brothers, out of their own hurt and woundedness, harm Joseph and their father in return even more deeply. The boy is sold and presumed dead. Then they grieve with their father as though the story they invent were true.

All of them live with this lie and this deed for two decades.

Jacob believes the lie and never stops grieving. The brothers maybe even convince themselves it is true. But on their beds at night, with darkness penetrating their daytime masks of decency, they surely remember.

Joseph himself never sends a message home. Why? Anger? Ego? Fear?  He names his son Manasseh, for “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” (41:51. Literally, “making to forget.”) I don’t think so!  Every time he calls his son’s name, “Making To Forget,” he remembers.

Everyone in this story is deeply harmed by others, and everyone in this story harms others deeply.

Blood is thicker than water, we say. That isn’t necessarily so, as we see the deep hurt in many families, in every age. And even those of us who are lucky enough to have great family relationships sometimes inflict pain on each other, intentionally or not.

Life is filled with unresolved conflicts.  Sometimes we learn to live with them; sometimes we don’t.

You may want to finish reading the Joseph saga before next Sunday, when there will be some resolution. God will fashion something good, even out of the remnants of this messed-up family. To be honest, it doesn’t always happen that way.

In the good or the bad, we keep on going. We attempt to find ways to keep our strong relationships strong, to fortify the weaker ones, to let go of the unhealthy ones, and to determine the differences among the types.

All of these can be results of the work of God’s work, as well as the spirit-work we do on ourselves.

It often isn’t easy. It often is quite complicated. Yet this God-work and spirit-work can make our relationships healthier, even thicker than blood.IMG_6067, copyright

© 2017, Melissa Bane Sevier

 

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Responses

  1. Thanks, Melissa. Timely for us. Jillian accepted the invitation to come up for Steve’s birthday weekend with the teens. We probably should all read this in unison! Cinda

    Sent from my Windows 10 phone

  2. Have a wonderful visit!


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