When things fall apart...
It is normal for virtually all siblings to squabble as children. Managed well, these moments provide an opportunity for skills development. Children can learn conflict resolution, communication, anger and stress management skills during these periods of tension.
Unfortunately, sometimes these fights carry into adulthood fracturing relationships for good.
I believe most of us have experienced the sting of estrangement from our flesh and blood. At one time, some of my siblings and I were not in talking terms due to misunderstandings that were perpetuated by poor communication. It hurt so much, to see the once warm and loving relationship fizzle away. Sometimes one has no words to describe what they are going through. Thankfully for me, the Lord restored our relationship.
The bible has a number of stories on sibling battles. Joseph’s story is the last of the brotherly battles of Genesis; Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau all quarreled. The story of Joseph’s triumph from the Pastures to the Pit, Potiphar’s house, Prison and finally to the Palace encouraged me during the dark period when my siblings and I were struggling.
God desires that siblings dwell together in harmony, the book of Psalms 133:1 says “….Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” NKJV. Unresolved anger, bitterness and resentment gives the devil a foothold. For Joseph, success was not enough. The bible story goes on from there, God wanted forgiveness within the family. A famine made Joseph’s brothers to move out of Palestine; they came to Egypt looking for food. Kneeling before Joseph-they begged for the right to buy food.
Five times the book of Genesis records that Joseph broke into tears, once weeping so loudly that people in the next room heard him. Reading through the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis chapter 37-50 enabled me to glean some life lessons in dealing with sibling squabbles:
Avoidance does not lead to resolution of issues - it helps to talk openly; one must uncover in order to recover.
Not everyone needs to know what is going on - Joseph sorted issues with his brother’s privately. He did not expose them to the Egyptians or Pharaoh. It is important to ask oneself the motive for sharing sibling squabbles with another person. Is it in order to host pity parties and draw attention to oneself, or is it for encouragement.
Don’t let someone’s choices influence your own - Joseph purposed to do the right thing regardless of the betrayal by his brothers. Whether he was in the pastures, Potiphar’s house, prison or palace; he served diligently and proved himself faithful. As a result the bible records that the Lord was with Joseph and He prospered him.
Vengeance belongs to the Lord - Joseph treated his brothers with love, kindness and compassion even after the death of their father, Jacob. The bible admonishes us not to return evil with evil, but to overcome evil with good.
Obstacles present opportunities for growth -character is not inherited. It cannot be bought. Joseph consistently demonstrated a high level of integrity despite being raised in a household steeped in trickery, jealousy, lies, envy and strife. As a matter of fact, his father Jacob, was a trickster just like his name suggests. Moral excellence and fine mental qualities are not the result of accident. God gives opportunities, success depends upon the use of them.
My prayer for you is that regardless of what you are going through in your family, the Lord is an ever present help. He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Call on him and cling on His promises. Until then, learn the lessons and remember to always do the right thing.
Dr Rose Misati
Certified Family Therapist