Verse 5: “Now do not be distressed or take it amiss that you sold me into slavery here; it was God who sent me ahead of you to save men’s lives.”
I am struck by Joseph’s attitude towards his brothers. As a result of their envy, he was sold into slavery and spent time in prison. While in prison, Joseph used his gifts to interpret the dreams of his guards. Word of his talents spread. He was called to interpret a dream of the Pharaoh. His willingness to stand fully with himself and all he knew resulted in him becoming “a father to Pharaoh, and lord over all his household and ruler of all Egypt.” (Verse 8)
We underestimate the power of standing with our inner resources and whole self. We seem to have a predisposition to noticing lack, hardship, absence, and struggle.
Like Joseph’s brothers, we compare ourselves to others and we come up short. We can quickly access the guilt and shame-inducing litany of our deficits. We consciously or unconsciously may feel envy, jealousy, and hatred toward our self and/or others. Such feelings prompted Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery. We sell ourselves when we set aside creative, life-giving impulses to serve the “shoulds, musts, and ought to” we tell ourselves.
The transformative energies of our psyche/soul too easily get enslaved in the mundane. We end up living according to ideals we hold in our head instead of from the essence of our being. Without realizing it, we imprison ourselves in life-draining ways of being in relationship to our selves and others. We end up playing roles instead of being who we are in the moment. We know this is happening when we feel put upon, used, and helpless to do anything to change our situation.
Joseph gives us a beautiful example of how to move out of the state of imprisonment. We hear it expressed in his statement to his brothers, “do not be distressed…it was God…” Joseph acted with confidence in his knowing as he interpreted the dreams of the prison guards, then Pharaoh. He stood with himself even when imprisoned. He used his skills; he did not let go of his connection to God.
As we consciously stand with our selves by using all of what we know, we begin to move out of imprisonment. We may banish parts of ourselves through denial or repression, but we have to be willing to say what’s so for us (even when bits of our self are hostile to us, like Joseph’s brothers were hostile to him). In all aspects of our selves, the larger whole we are—God Within—keeps moving us towards wholeness and integration. Our call is to stand with all of who we are by utilizing our inner resources in every situation.
Where do you feel imprisoned? What are the inner processes of thoughts, feelings, and sensations that keep you trapped? How can you stand fully with yourself in these places? What might you say? Do? How can you support yourself in cultivating Joseph’s attitude that God is in all circumstances of your life—inner and outer? Ask God Within to give you strength to be all that you are in service of your soul.