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My Internal Deadness

GENESIS 45:1-15

1Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Send everyone away from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. 3Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.

4Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. 10You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11I will provide for you there – since there are five more years of famine to come – so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’ 12And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you. 13You must tell my father how greatly I am honored in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” 14Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.

A dear friend of mine posted on Facebook that he was in tears as he prepared for Good Friday. My thought: that’s nice. I wish I wasn’t so dead inside.

One of the things that is gripping about this passage, and much of the Hebrew scripture, is all of the dude tears. “Dude tears”, for those of you that don’t know, are tears shed by dudes. In scripture, men weep. They wail. They fall on each other’s necks (whatever that means), they rend their garments (bad, right?) and wear sackcloth (itchy?). The Hebrew Bible is filled with men acting on their emotions in such visibly demonstrative ways that make me so wildly uncomfortable.

Much of my life has been an exercise in keeping my emotions in check. Don’t get too happy, because you’re just gonna crash down to earth. Don’t get too sad, because someone else always has it worse. Don’t cry. Men don’t cry (or worse, “I’ll give you something to cry for”… a standard in my house). Don’t laugh too loud, especially if I’m the only black face in the room. So, I have a couple of canned responses to life. I laugh at most things, but not too loud and not too long. “That sucks” is my standard response to bad news. Scrunched face, “you okay?” my go-to when others are sad. It’s an emotional buffet with pretty limited options.

There are times that I wish I was a crier. Don’t get me wrong, the rare occasion has brought me to tears; my grandmother’s death, my divorce, a few intimate moments, but for the most part I am cool because cool is what I’ve been conditioned to be.

I imagine the swirl of emotions that had to be going on inside of Joseph. The joy. The relief at dropping the charade. The questioning of how he would be received by those who betrayed him. The longing to see his father. I tell myself that if I were in his shoes, I would have been a weeping mass and it would have been totally okay. I repent that that’s probably not true. Not because I don’t feel things deeply but because feeling things deeply makes me incredibly uncomfortable and I oftentimes don’t know how to deal with the discomfort.

I am dead inside, longing for resurrection.

About derricklweston

Father of two. I co-host God Complex Radio, a show highlighting progressive voices in the faith community. (godcomplexradio.com) I am an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church USA. I like lots of stuff. Sometimes I write about that stuff.


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