©2003 Gail Pursell Elliott
The Biblical story of Joseph is a story about mobbing and bullying. It fits the profile well. The importance of the story to me and ultimately to those that have been affected by this type of behavior in their own lives is not what was done, however cruel and reprehensible, but how Joseph ultimately allowed evil to be transformed into something positive.
Simply put, Joseph’s brothers were jealous and secretly resentful of him. They wanted to get rid of him without consequences to them. They ganged up on him, took his beautiful coat that was a gift from their father, abused him, and sold him into slavery. They took the coat, put blood on it, and took it back to their father with a story that a wild beast had killed Joseph. The father was devastated and the brothers kept their secret. No one but Joseph and his brothers knew what had really happened.
Joseph went through a horrible experience and went through more as a slave. Eventually he was elevated to a position of power because who he truly was within himself could not be destroyed regardless of what circumstances were thrust upon him by others.
Joseph could have become bitter and resentful and used the experience as justification to hurt others.
He might have retaliated against his brothers years later when they came asking to buy grain and didn’t recognize him.
He could have allowed what happened to him to destroy his life.
Any number of scenarios are possibilities all based upon personal choice determining personal destiny.
But he did not do any of these destructive things that would have ultimately been self-destructive. He was aware of his personal dignity and self-respect, of his true identity and acted in accordance with that regardless of what had happened to him. He even forgave and helped his brothers and family.
Being true to our inner identity in the face of the challenges and inequities of life can be incredibly difficult. It is especially hard to return evil with goodness. But what we must do is not focus on what to return, but how to transform it and that transformation can only be accomplished by holding on to our personal power and inner truth.
What happened to Joseph was terrible and undeserved. Similarly, the treatment we may receive through the lack of insight, awareness, and the personal choices that others make may be more or less terrible, equally undeserved, and can affect us for a lifetime. We cannot control much of what comes to us in life, or the actions of others, but like Joseph we do control what we do with it.
We may initially feel angry, hurt, betrayed, depressed, anxious, and more. We may blame others or ourselves.
We may become self-righteous and intimidating.
We may retreat within ourselves, lose faith, become hyper vigilant.
We may wish to expose or crush those who have perpetrated evil against us.
It is possible, in fact probable, that Joseph felt all of these things. This is, after all, the story of a human being with wants, hopes, needs, dreams, and desires that were shattered by people he trusted. But eventually he was able to reconnect with something greater within himself that ultimately resulted in him using the experience for good rather than perpetuating the evil that had been done to him.
We have the same choices in situations, whether large or small, that affect either us or those we love in a negative way. We may feel powerless and frustrated but we always have opportunities for transformation. The first step is to not allow ourselves to be consumed by the experience but to move forward in whatever way we can.
We may never have the opportunity to confront those who have changed our lives in this way, as Joseph did. We may never have the closure of apology and reconciliation that he had at the end of the story. We may go on for years never knowing or understanding the purpose of situations that occur, as Joseph did, but we may be assured that opportunities for growth and purpose are present in all situations whether positive or negative.
Joseph lost much but he was not a loser. That was not due to the circumstances of his life but in how he met them. Most of us will never attain the degree of power and influence externally that he did. But whatever we do attain we can choose to wield ultimately with insight, awareness, empathy, compassion, dignity and respect. Then, no matter what we may lose we are never losers either. The power of transformation is always ours.
Anticipate a great day. It’s Yours!
©2000-2014 Gail Pursell Elliott All rights reserved. Food for Thought is part of the Dignity and Respect mission of Innovations and the intellectual property of Gail Pursell Elliott.