Monday, January 12, 2009

Women Rule the World. Installment 2: The story of Joseph.

One of the ways to become a woman of substance is to survive adversity. Though this isn't intended to be a religious blog, I have to admit that every time something bad happens to me, or every time I face a challenge, I can't help thinking of the story of Joseph from the Bible.

Here's a kid who has a dream that more or less tells him he's going to be great. He's so excited that he tells his dad and his brothers about the dream. This in and of itself might not have been too bad, but he was his father's favorite. He's the guy who got the coat of many colors. After a few years of putting up with his bragging, his being spoiled by their dad, his being oblivious to real life, his brothers snapped and tossed him into a pit.

The original plan was to let him die. One of the brothers talked the others into simply selling him into slavery and telling their dad he died. He's sold into slavery, ends up in Egypt, and is bought by a rich guy who puts him in charge of everything in his house after he proves himself. But in the blink of an eye he's accused of a crime he didn't commit and goes to jail. Basically, he goes to jail twice. In jail, he learns the ways of Egyptians. He develops his skills in math and with people and when his big opportunity comes, he proves himself to the Pharaoh and becomes second in command of a country in which he's technically an alien.

Talk about making lemonade out of lemons. But there are a lot of lessons to be learned from this story. First, after being so horribly treated by his brothers, Joseph grew up quickly. He forgot the dream and no longer had a dad to spoil him, so he grew up. He also realized he didn't merely want to survive, he wanted to thrive. When another person might have been howling up a storm, he used his time to learn the ways of his new country.

The moral of the story to me is bad things happen to good people sometimes; life frequently isn't fair; and sometimes it's the people closest to us who cause our troubles. But if you don't whine, but try to make the best of your circumstances, you can persevere.

Nobody has to toss you into a pit for you to face struggles. Life transitions can throw us into circumstances where we find ourselves scrambling to keep up, scrambling to learn the lay of the new 'land', scrambling to grow into the person we need to be to navigate the new phase of our lives.

I remember struggling as a new wife, and being totally overwhelmed as a new mother. Raising teenagers is scary. Empty nest is lonely. Menopause is downright weird. No matter who you are and how you try to stave off transitions. . .Life comes at you fast. LOL

What normally happens in these transitions is that you shed some things that you considered important from your past and work your way into new roles with new goals. When you get married, for instance, you stop a lot of your girlish ways and begin making a home, learning to live with a partner -- as opposed to your family or a roommate. In a way, you reset your mind from expecting/wanting one group of things to going after the new set of things that fit your new life.

But once your new life is established you don’t stop working. There’ll always be work! But the chaotic situation that started your change will suddenly seem manageable.

Sadly, I've learned from a good many of my younger friends that this is a lesson that doesn't seem to get passed on anymore. Everybody wants to be happy and few of us equate happiness to change.

But it is. Especially if you're at a crossroads or in a new phase of your life.

The next time you find yourself feeling like a calf at a new gate, think of Joseph. Sometimes change is necessary for you to grow.


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