The rats scurried away as Joseph sat up, stretching after a long night of catnaps and fitful sleep. The lumpy mattress and prison noises had conspired to maximize his discomfort.
Joseph’s muscles cried for their usual morning activity, but with a sob rising in his chest, Joseph sunk back to the mattress and turned to the wall.
Hours later, his foggy thoughts were invaded by new sounds.
Thumping in the hall.
His door opened.
The prison guard ordered him out.
Joseph drug himself off the bed, contemplating his new reality. Yesterday, he was as close to a prince as a slave in Egypt could get. Today? Today he was on the bottom, in this awful, smelly hole.
With heavy feet, Joseph shuffled – suddenly stiff like an old man. The guard marched on. Soon, a door opened. The air changed, as a soft smell emanated from the room. Joseph raised his head, sensing, more than feeling, the familiar opulence of status.
Standing up straight, Joseph followed the guard into the room.
Inside, soft light opened every corner. A rug softened the floor and incense filled the air, covering the stench of prison bodies and human waste.
The Jailer sat in a corner of the room. Weeks ago, Joseph would have sent people to the Jailer for insubordination. He saw himself a peer. Now, the Jailer held power. Power over Joseph’s life. Joseph watched the Jailer carefully, looking for a clue as to why this meeting was arranged.
The Jailer waved the guard away. The door closed behind Joseph, shutting out the prison sounds.
“Well?” the Jailer simply asked a question.
Joseph was careful to not relax. His prison could become his grave if he got on the wrong side of this man.
“I am here to serve you.” Joseph decided his best approach was honesty, thinking of the Jailer’s perspective instead of his own. Rage still burned in his stomach from his false imprisonment, but that rage would not put him in anyone’s good graces. That was for him, alone, in the privacy of his cell. Here, the Jailer needed to hear his function, not his feelings.
The Jailer gestured to a seat. Carefully, still stiff, Joseph sat on the edge of the chair. Remembering the lessons from his march to Egypt, Joseph knew that to relax was to assume, and to assume was to be punished. Subservience would be rewarded.
As Joseph sat on the edge of the chair, the pain of betrayal burned in his heart, crying for release. His mind, however, focused on the reality before him.
In that moment, he made a choice – let go of what was. Years ago, he had resigned himself to the life of a slave and released his right to the privileged child. Today, again, he resigned himself to subservience and released his right to rule.
Have you ever sat on the edge of that seat? Yesterday’s pain, choking your throat, as you try to grasp your new reality? How long did you sit on that seat?
Here are a few things you need to do in order to get off that seat and start moving forward again:
- Forgive. No matter whether your current situation was caused by your failings, someone else’s failings, or just circumstances, you are going to have to forgive.
- Release. When we sit on the edge of the seat, in the middle of transition, we have a tendency to think “someday, things will get better.” We hold our dreams and expectations from the past, hoping that “someday” we will find all the puzzle pieces and put our picture back together again. It is imperative that you release those expectations, let go of “someday”, and start living today.
- Focus. Today is your day to live. Focus on being the best you can be today. You are still a gifted person. Your new position doesn’t mean you are a different person. It may very well mean that this new situation needs someone just like you to bring the talent and make something new. Once you have forgiven and released, you will be free to focus on those around you and find out how you can make a difference in their lives.
Joseph gained status in each of his new positions. Eventually, he rose to a position above everyone, and even saw his dreams fulfilled.
It would have been easy to let resentment and anger take over his life. It would have been easy to carry that anger into each new position, therefore poisoning all his new relationships. Instead, Joseph thrived. He thrived physically, and he thrived spiritually. Throughout his journey, as he forgave, released and gained new focus, he became more and more convinced of God’s presence every step of the way.
Where are you at in the process?
Do you need to forgive?
Do you need to release expectations?
Are you ready to focus on making a difference today?