“They loaded their donkeys with their grain, and departed.” Genesis 42:26, NRSV
Joseph’s brothers head home with the grain that they were sent to procure. Mission accomplished. But they are going home without one of the brothers. And they are coming home to get the youngest brother, the father’s new favorite, to take back to Joseph in Egypt, who will then release the brother that has been kept in trust.
We can well imagine the conversations on the way home. What are they going to say to their father, and mother, though the mother is not mentioned in the story, about why they have come back one son short? How are they going to account for this arrangement that they are to go back with the favored Benjamin to get back Simeon? They are probably arguing and debating and exploring every avenue for putting this across to their father in a way that he will accept. Yes, they are adults, but they are still sons and owe their devotion to their father and are subject to his authority. No doubt they were panicked and scared about the whole business.
Even when we are adults, we feel the influence of our parents. They may be long dead. We may be fully functioning, independent, successful grownups, and yet our parents are still influencing us. We may not have parents, and their absence may still be shaping us. Parents have an enormous role to play in the development of children. They are crucial to the functioning of society. Parenting is extremely important.
When we become adults, we need to take responsibility for the role that our parents have in our lives. We need to choose what kind of influence they will have over us. I sometimes think to myself, “What would my father want me to do in this situation?” Or “Dad would approve of this.” Or “This is something my father would want me to be part of.” Even though my father has been dead since 2007, I feel he is still having a positive influence in my life and I am grateful. I was fortunate to have a father like that.
As our oldest son became an adult, I told him, “Dad and I did our best raising you. You know that you are loved. Yes, we made lots of mistakes. We probably screwed you up in some ways. But now that you are an adult it’s up to you to straighten things out and become who you want to be.”
Part of the journey as an adult is dealing with whatever our past experience is involving our parents. We can try to look for the good and let that continue to bless us.
We are grateful for parents – biological and others who have an important influence on our development. May we choose to see the positive lessons that have been given to us in our upbringing. And may we choose forgiveness when those who have parented us have had a harmful influence. Amen.