My Family Dysfunction
Leah conceived and bore a son . . . Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” . . . When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. Genesis 29:32-3:1
In my drug addiction, my disease made me terribly sick, but it didn’t stop there. It made my wife sick as well and it was profoundly toxic to our relationship. When I went to treatment, I needed to get sober, but I just wanted to get home to fix my marriage. I was wisely counseled that I couldn’t help anyone in my condition. I was hopelessly addicted. The only healthy thing I could do at that point was to remain in treatment, doing whatever it took to find recovery. Leaving treatment early to work on my family would have been a disaster as I’d have only made things worse back home. I begged God to fix my family mess, but he was using that mess to fix me. Staying in treatment and getting sober was the only way to begin to heal my family. As is so often the case, I thought the solution lie elsewhere, but the only thing I could change was me, which of course, is exactly what needed to change.
Today’s passage describes another family in great dysfunction. In the story, Jacob married sisters Leah and Rachel, loving Rachel, while spurning Leah. Treating Leah poorly didn’t prevent Jacob from having a sexual relationship with her though, as he impregnated her three times. Leah erroneously hoped that providing sons would make Jacob love her, which she thought would make her happy. Meanwhile, the childless Rachel hated Leah even more and lashed out at Jacob – Give me children, or I shall die (Genesis 30:1)! Jacob responded in anger – It’s not my fault! I got Leah pregnant three times! Like I said – dysfunctional.
Leah couldn’t make Jacob love her any more than Rachel could make herself pregnant. Does this mean they were destined to be miserable? Leah and Rachel looked outside of themselves for joy, peace, and meaning. The problem though, was that they had no control over those things and so, they lived in misery, subject to the dysfunction of their circumstances.
We often do this, seeking our joy, purpose, and meaning in all the wrong places – places we cannot control and that cannot satisfy. God made us to find our joy only in him. When our circumstances make us miserable, we often find ourselves trying to fix the unfixable. What we should be doing is turning to the father – God, what do you want me to do here? Please help me find joy in my relationship with you. We may not be able to fix our circumstances, but that doesn’t mean we can’t experience joy, purpose, and meaning – despite those circumstances.