The instinct to keep the shameful details of my story hidden was very strong. On some level, the decision to reveal the truth was (and is) a mystery to me. Certainly, there are moments when I wish people didn’t know; there are those who criticize and cast scorn, but even in receiving the contempt of critical curmudgeons I cannot deny there is some mysterious way in which the Author converts it into rich fellowship with Himself. Ultimately I doubt I had much of a choice regarding whether or not my story was going to be published, and as odd as it may seem I wholeheartedly agree with the exposure. I genuinely invite you to come and meet the One who will invariably tell you everything you’ve ever done.
I’ve been deeply insecure for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid I remember feeling chronically insufficient. At first I thought it was because I was the fourthborn son of my mom’s litter, and I always felt like I had to prove myself by competing with my older brothers. But as I got older I started to realize that things were a bit more complex …I still remember the day when my brother Reuben pointed out, “Don’t you see? Mom’s the ugly one! She’s the welfare wife! Haven’t you heard the story about how Grandpa duped dad on their wedding day!? Dad doesn’t love us! Our mom probably doesn’t even outrank his concubines!” It was a bitter realization, and that was the moment I made the conscious decision to protect myself with the armor of cynicism and resentment, and arm myself with the artillery of cold calculating pragmatism. Looking back, it’s clear that my brothers and I all harbored an acute sense of inadequacy, and we regularly attempted to compensate by teasing the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah. We’d say things like, “Gad is sad about his boyfriend’s dad.” Or we’d simply refer to Dan as “Dandelion” or “Dandy”. Of course all of this seems downright silly now, but seeing the impact of our provocations made us feel “in control”; and it took next-to-nothing to stir up conflict and drama in our dysfunctional, polygamy-permeated, family back in those days (what with mom and the other three mating partners constantly manipulating dad and competing with one another for status …it was a circus!).
As much as we despised and belittled Bilhah and Zilpah’s kids, we all joined forces to pour out our contempt upon Rachel’s kids (“the hated favorites”). I remember feeling a steady low-grade disdain for Benjamin, but I harbored a relentless and committed hatred for Joseph. I think Joseph would have been the most exceptionally deplored of the brothers no matter what, but our father’s favoritism absolutely guaranteed and amplified our animosity toward Joe. Our father’s favoritism of Joseph was nauseating (even he subtly admitted as much at times). I could give dozens of examples of times when preferential treatment of Joseph peaked my indignation, but those dreams of his were what really sealed his fate. I’m not sure we would’ve tolerated his holier-than-thou tattlings indefinitely, but when he started matter-of-factly reporting his dreams of preeminence even our dad reprimanded him. I think that was the moment we “justified” the plan that had been brewing in our hearts for years …If Joseph’s most smitten admirer was willing to acknowledge his infuriating “flaunting of flawlessness”, then certainly we (the unappreciated sons of second-rate wives) were entitled to a little vengeance…