When Friends and Family Fail
I've been reading on Joseph. His life is astounding and many of us probably relate to his experience, especially pertaining to his relationships with those closest to him.
The passage says that when his brothers saw him coming to them from afar, they said "Here comes this dreamer!" Clearly, Joseph had vision for something greater than what his brothers ever imagined. He caught a glimpse of his identity before God and it rocked him. He shared it with them out of excitement which unbeknownst to Joseph, was not a good idea. Joseph wasn't expecting it, but him sharing backfired.
Many people in the Body of Christ get vision of who God intends them to be, briefly seeing the greatness God has planned for their lives. They step out and tell their family, friends, and mentors out of sheer excitement. These are the people that have walked beside them for years, have prayed for them to succeed and know God, and have been relationally consistent and faithful. In many ways, these are the people that a person would expect to celebrate with them when something good happens. But just like Joseph, many times family and friends do not have the reaction that we expect. Instead of confirming the call of God upon our lives, they react. Despite the many years of knowing us and who we are, they are suddenly unsure about us. This is extremely disconcerting and confusing when it first happens. If this is you, hang in there and read on. You aren't alone.
There are many reasons why this type of thing happens. Sometimes we have stepped outside of what they are comfortable with pertaining to relationship with God. Sometimes they simply threatened by the change God is implying upon our life because they just see the person as a younger brother, as in Joseph's case. Condescension can be a guise for the desire to control, insecure, and like in Joseph's case, even jealousy.
See, prior to God gloriously messing up our lives, we all played a role in our families and friend's lives that they had grown accustomed to for years. When that role and identity is challenged by God, people can react. That is okay! It is all apart of the show...even though it may not be very fun. Some of the most awkward conversations I have ever had where ones where I was telling family or friends about something wonderful that I had learned about God or something God did through me. The *last* thing you expect is for those conversations to go badly because you are so innocently excited about what God just did. Then suddenly, BAM...the relational door slams shut and you are standing there on the doorstep of their life wondering what on earth you did. In fact, I have lost far more friendships over God doing something wonderful and me telling a friend because I was excited than the (many) legitimate screw-ups that I have been responsible for in my life.
Even Jesus went through this ridiculousness.
The people around Jesus said things like, "You are just the son of a carpenter from Nazareth! We know who you are!" They weren't interested in Jesus excelling past their standards and vision. They tried to hold him to a certain mold and the moment they saw Him breaking it, they flipped out. When people can't celebrate other people's victories and destinies, all that is left for them to do is hold everyone else back from what they haven't yet experienced personally. Christ's own blood family thought he was nuts at more than one point, but very clearly at Mark 3:21; "He is out of his mind."
Just as was true with Christ, our own family may straight up tell us that we aren't hearing from God and to stop rocking the boat. Obeying God has a way of turning those against us that we were sure were for us no matter what. Sometimes it may not be that our family straight-up calls us crazy. When God invaded my life, my family didn't exactly know what to do with it or understand it, but they were just glad I was excited about God and saw past what they didn't understand to my heart. Others aren't as fortunate. Sometimes, because people know that their honest thoughts may hurt you, they may just keep their mouth closed and take on a tone and demeanor of apathy and indifference. They use the word, "Interesting" when you share, calmly smiling, quietly waiting for you to finish. This is the best they know to do, and that is okay too! This lack of support can be just as hurtful, but it needs to be remembered that the motive behind it is love on their part. They don't want to hurt you and are trying their best not to quell your excitement. People aren't evil...they are just sorting through their own stuff and sometimes unintentionally let it leak onto you. What will convince your family and friends of what you are saying will not be your words but your lifestyle. Just start to live it and they will come around with time. When we continue to love those that don't understand what God is doing in our life is when we start to embody the very thing God is calling us into. Be the bigger person and take the higher road. Offense can be imparted; Don't take it on. Jesus refused to become offended when people misunderstood Him and His heart, which happened frequently.
The point is that if *God Himself* caught flack for expressing the truth of who He was, then surely you will too. If you haven't caught flack for who you are in the eyes of God, you probably have either heard from God of who you are and haven't told anyone yet, or it has yet to be revealed to you. You know when you are stepping into your destiny when you start to catch flack simply for obeying what God is telling you to do. Jesus promised persecution. Hardship shouldn't cause us to back off but lean even more into God.
At this point some people actually back off and give up on what God was telling them. I have seen it so many times. In fact, I have seen it so many times that I sometimes get concerned when a person gets great vision for their lives prior to having intimacy with God and being grounded in strong character. This is because if a person doesn't know how to run into the love of God when the fire and brimstone starts being heaved at them by people, they won't make it long. Their experience becomes a pillar of crumbling salt they look back upon rather than becoming the thing God told them they could become.
Not long after Joseph gets sold off to the enemy by his own family, completely abandoned and forsaken by everyone he knows, he is taken to Egypt. There, away from his family and friends in a foreign place, God exalts him to the place He intends for Joseph. God's favor was not something that was dictated by his family and friends agreeing with him. God's favor is unstoppable; It hunts down God's sons and daughters and moves mountains to make what God said come to fruition. He will do the same for you. If family and friends don't celebrate God's intended plans for a person, He will quickly move the person to a place where others do. God will not allow the gift inside someone to die simply because family and friends can't understand how someone could ascend to such heights. God is too loving to let this happen because the gift inside is meant for anyone that is hungry for it, and God won't let that go to waste for the sake of the hungry. If you want to keep those around you close, celebrate their victories and vision. Egypt gets a bad wrap, but at least they recognized Joseph's value...something Joseph's own family failed to do.
Surround yourself with people that think the way God does about you. When family or friends buck your heart or vision, just love them. If they are right, loving them is the correct response. If they are wrong, loving them is the correct response.
The only one that can sabotage God's plans is you. You are powerful. God's plans are bigger for you than you or anyone else could grasp. Dream big, you dreamer.