SHOULD I BE OPEN OR PLAY IT SAFE?
Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. Genesis 45:1-2
Joseph tested his brothers severely. It might have appeared that he had no mercy when he kept Simeon, imprisoned him, and gave the remaining brothers the stiff terms of his release. Joseph’s heart was unreadable, safely concealed, until such time as the nature of their hearts would be revealed. Once they showed the agony of true remorse, his heart would be on full display. He would weep so loud that the sound of it would penetrate the grounds of his vast residence.
What is my response to a sincere apology? If I’ve been in a relationship that turned treacherous, one that required that I prudently step back for time, it might appear to the other person that my heart is cold. But, in fact, I am praying for us both. I’m praying that their hardened heart will eventually soften because of the conviction of the Spirit, and I’m also praying that mine will not become hardened because of unforgiveness. The only reason Joseph could handle his brothers with such wisdom is because he had many thousands of hours alone with God. He, a Hebrew, lived as an outsider in Egyptian territory. Loneliness was God’s gift and the perfect training ground for impartial leadership.
Who has offered, what appears to be, a sincere apology? If God speaks to me and tells me that true remorse is present, what will my heart do? Will I keep it imprisoned in my tower of self-protection? Or, like Joseph, will I be willing to pour out the tears that have been hidden? Letting another see my heart is only possible when pride is put aside. How many times have I said, “I’ll never let them see my cry!”
Joseph offers me wise counsel in matters of the heart. He, like Jesus, has vast emotional capacities. He had many faces as he related to others. There were moments when he would have been called stoic but underneath was a current of tears that gave away the heart of a broken man.
There’s a time and a season for everything. There’s a time to conceal and a time to reveal. I have to be careful that I don’t live a life of concealment; ever protecting a heart that has been hurt one too many times. I also have to be careful that I don’t live a life of complete openness; allowing anyone and everyone access to my thoughts and emotions. Real maturity is knowing what Jesus would do in the midst of complicated and ever shifting relationships.
Without instruction of whispers from You, I’m chaff in the wind and continual prey. Amen