Sunday, August 20, 2023 – 12th Sunday of Pentecost In the book, Don’t Let Anything Dull Your Sparkle, How to Break Free of Negativity & Drama by Doreen Virtue, a whole chapter is dedicated to family dynamics. Doreen Virtue shares in chapter fourteen, How to be Yourself in Your Family, “The double bind that many people find themselves in is how to spend time with family when one or more members are rude or abusive.” The chapter goes on about the heartbreak that happens when we need to withdraw from negative family members and how it can feel very lonely and depressive. Joseph, the son of Jacob and Rachel in the book of Genesis, had a very dysfunctional family. But it wasn’t because of the non-monogamist marriages of his father to his mother and aunt. It was the way his own brothers treated him with such a contempt of the tongue with words and vicious actions of hate. Joseph’s brothers were so full of hate that they first thought about killing him. Ruben, the eldest of the new generation, stopped his brothers from their plan of murderous hate. Yet, Ruben did not put a stop to the brothers selling Joseph into slavery to a caravan of Egyptian merchants. It was this action that would change the course of the family’s life forever. God is teaching us within this broken family dynamic that hatred is never the answer to life issues. Joseph literary was taken from the toxic drama of his brothers, and his family of origin. Yet, God does not leave Joseph empty handed or out of the Lord’s graces of mercy and love. Joseph grows into a fine young man of strength, knowledge, and looks. He becomes part of the pharos’s household, gaining his trust. Trouble does not escape Joseph while he is living in Egypt and serving in the pharos’s court. He is accused of assaulting a woman of high prestige. He is thrown in jail and this is where his gift of foresight within the element of dreams becomes a toll for freedom. He interprets the dreams of the baker and chalice bearer. The pharaoh hears of Joseph’s gift of dream interpretation. Pharaoh wants him to interpret the dream he has had about the fat cows and the emaciated cows. Joseph interprets the dream of pharaoh to mean that there will be a time in Egypt of wonderful harvest… in fact, seven years of great harvest due to the seven fatted cows in the dream. The skinny cows symbolized the famine that was going to take place in the future. Egyptian authorities took actions to save the stores of grain. When all the countries around Egypt start to suffer, word gets to Joseph’s family in Canon that Egypt was the place with extra rations. Joseph’s brothers show up wanting to buy more rations for their large family and to continue to live. It’s this fateful trip that ends up having Joseph meet up with the brothers that had sold him into slavery. Joseph had a choice to make….does he reveal his true identity with anger for what his brothers did? Joseph chose deep compassion and love. This is a choice that breaks open the old wounds and allows God to do amazing work over time. Healing from toxic trauma is not an easy thing to do and it might take a lifetime. In a recent interview, actor Sandra Bullock spoke about the topic of forgiveness within her life. She shared that forgiveness is what helps the person who was hurt, but not always the person who hurt you. Some people who have hurt others either don’t care or they don’t know they have hurt us. The freedom we get from forgiveness gives us, as people of faith, something that exceeds our humanness into God’s love lived out.