The Bible is brutally honest. We can learn as much by example of what not to do as we do from good role models.
My analytical side always tries to figure out where people went wrong. What specific instance or happening that could have been avoided? Usually it’s more complex than that. People mess up for factors as varied and intricate as their motivations are, but once in a while we find a clue.
Jacob and Esau lived a convoluted relationship full of deceit. Did it have to be that way? Might those same individuals, born into a different setting, have turned out differently? I ran across a verse yesterday that makes me wonder if their animosity wasn’t a natural product of their family environment.
In Genesis 25:28 we read “Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.”
In the very next verse, the boys are adults and Jacob is preparing to trade Esau out of his birthright. Granted, Esau understood what he was doing (as opposed to later when Jacob stole his blessing by deceit), but how does a brother relationship become so dysfunctional that one brother would manipulate the emotions of another to gain his inheritance.
Isaac loved Esau…but Rebekah loved Jacob.
There is a vast gulf between favoritism and recognizing your childrens’ differences. The former destroys, while the latter builds mutual appreciation and cooperation. Jacob and Esau were inherently different. One hunted. The other cooked. Where might they have gone had they cooperated? Hoever, unable to appreciate their own distinctives, they fixated on how their parents regarded them, favorably or unfavorably.
Jacob apparently yearned for his father’s blessing. Esau probably lacked greatly for the love of a mother. They fought with one another for what their parents did not give them.
I’m watching my boys bloom before my very eyes. They are as different as night and day and tuna fish. (Sorry, I realize the phrase is “different than night and day” but I have three sons and tuna fish seemed as far removed from night and day as it could get).
- Jackson, 18, is the marketing savant. Maybe savant is a strong word, but are you successfully selling T-shirts with your name on the front?
- Grayson, 14, is the social networker with a justice chip. He knows everyone and pulls them into his causes, whether it be raising funds for adoption or engineering a trip to Peach Wave.
- Zion, 10, is the athlete/artist. Right now the kid lives and breathes soccer. He’ll review game video in the mornings, go to a clinic and then team practice in the afternoon, then drill balls into the goal until the sun goes down.
In order to produce a balanced family, I need to balance my interest and affection intentionally. That necessitates learning about topics that I would have no interest in normally. Like soccer.
Last night Zion and I sat at the kitchen table, hovering over bowls of freshly cut watermelon. We talked about practice. I learned that he “almost nailed….” a bicycle kick in soccer practice. I learned that his group won the 5 on 5 tournament they played this afternoon, winning “every single game!”. And I told him that I never watched sports in my life, but I love watching him play soccer because I can tell he feels most alive when he’s chasing down that ball.
In a split second, a grin completely engulfed his normally stoic little face.
Parents, take a lesson from Isaac and Rebekah. Favoritism – or simply delighting only in that portion of your children’s life that naturally delights you – is potting soil for the root of bitterness.
If you want your children to appreciate one another’s uniqueness, than you must celebrate it yourself.
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