photo courtesy of fabrisalvetti From Joseph and his brothers we learn about dysfunctional families and how to become emotionally mature.
In his classic book Dare to Discipline, Dr. James Dobson tells the story of King Frederick II, who in the 13th century conducted an experiment that involved fifty infants. The purpose of the experiment was to discover what language a baby would speak if the baby never heard a spoken word.The infants were assigned foster mothers. These care givers were permitted to bathe and feed the infants, but not talk to them. All fifty babies died.
Nurturing relationships are vital to survival. An unloved child cannot make it. Likewise, in God’s Kingdom the absence of nurturing love leaves people emotionally immature and stuck – unable to relate positively to God, others or themselves. All of us begin our Christian life with some “emotional baggage."
Sin has affected all of us
Some mistakenly assume that they are the only ones born into a dysfunctional family. The reality is that all families are broken and marred by the effects of sin. Although our families of origin and other traumatic life experiences have left an imprint on our lives, it is important that we not see ourselves as total victims. We cannot be
if we adopt a “victim” mindset.
Joseph and His Brothers
Joseph initially believed his brothers sold him to Egypt. Years later he realized that God sent him to save lives (Genesis 45:7). From the time they sold him, until Joseph and his brothers were reunited, twenty-two years passed. This fact alone helps us realize how much time it takes to process certain events in our life. By coming to terms with God’s providential plan, Joseph
matured into a spiritual and emotional adult.
Joseph did not consider himself a "victim." He
God's plan for his life.
Identify and address unhealthy tendencies
Followers of Jesus are at various levels of emotional maturity. Some are insecure and needy; others seem confident and self assured. Regardless of background or experiences, all people have inadequate images of God, distorted views of themselves and unhealthy ways of relating to others. Discipleship training must address this part of our humanity because it’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature. To become emotionally mature disciples we must first identify and address unhealthy tendencies.
One key to Jesus’ maturity was integrating truth and love. "The child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him" (Luke 2:40). This verse provides a pattern for all of Christ’s followers to imitate.
To further help you understand how to grow into an emotional adult, I highly recommend Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, by Peter Scazzero. In fact, I list this book as a
favorite. Scazzero writes, “It is easy to grow physically into a chronological adult. It is quite another to grow into an emotionally mature adult. Many people may be, chronologically, forty-five years old but remain an emotional infant, child or adolescent.” Be patient with yourself and those you are discipling. Understand that emotional maturity comes from the right mix of grace, truth and time.