Judging by our picture, you would think we are a nice, normal family. Right? We say, “Our family puts the FUN in dysFUNctional!” God takes different personalities, throws them under one roof, adds in hormones and lack of sleep, and says, “Good luck! Get along! Love each other! Forgive each other! You are family! Mwuahahahaha!”
Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime. Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. (Genesis 37:26)
“[Judah says] So please, my lord, let me stay here as a slave instead of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. For how can I return to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see the anguish this would cause my father!” (Genesis 44:33-34)
Judging by our picture, you would think we are a nice, normal family. Right? But my uncle Mark always says, “Our family puts the FUN in dysFUNctional!” And, c’mon. Who really has a normal, functional family anyway? God takes (in our case) 5 unique personalities, throws them under one tiny roof, adds in hormones and lack of sleep, and says, “Good luck! Get along! Love each other! Forgive each other! You are family! Mwuahahahaha!” Yea, right! Add in some steps and halves and that crazy uncle everyone has, extended family and in-law’s, and you have a recipe for dysfunction.
Joseph’s family was TOTALLY dysfunctional. His dad played favorites, his brothers HATED him, his older brother Judah had a thing with his own daughter-in-law and got her pregnant because he thought she was a prostitute (read What Happens In Vegas for that story), his brothers threw him in a pit and sold him into slavery and lied to their dad about it for 23 years….yeah, I think you could call that dysfunctional. And it hurt people. It hurt Joseph.
Does Joseph end up forgiving them? Yes, he does. Does he weep over them with tears of joy? Yes, he does, but not until he tests them a little bit. He threw them in prison. He kept Simeon in prison indefinitely. Jospeh acted out a little drama and made it seem like he was going to keep Benjamin as a slave forever, then he changes everything on a dime and weeps with tears of joy over them. WHY? Why the sudden change?
He saw fruit. He saw that even in the dysfunction that was his family, his brothers had changed. They went from hating the favorite (Joseph) to protecting him (Benjamin). They went from being jealous to loving. They went from being selfish to being selfless. They went from being angry and acting out to showing remorse and responsibility. Joseph saw fruit of change in their lives — that was when he decided it was safe to let them back in. But it was a process, and it took time.
There is a process.
- There is the act of forgiveness, where you forgive because you know the Word says to.
- There is the process of healing, where you walk out the steps to see fruit of change.
- And there is the state of forgiveness, where you may still see the scar, but it doesn’t hurt anymore and you truly can walk in peace.
There is no way to cover this entire subject in one blog post. Dysfunction, pain, love, forgiveness, fruit of change, what is okay and what is not, what do boundaries look like, and is it okay to walk away without restoration….These are all unique to any situation.
You’ve got to go through the process. It’s not easy, and it may take time. You may need to read some books (there is a book called Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Cloud and Townsend that gives excellent advice on setting healthy boundaries) or talk to a Pastor or a counselor. But know this, no matter what you have gone through, God can lead you through to healing and peace. It is possible. I have experienced it first hand! Don’t give up. He will walk you through!
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. (Isaiah 43:2)