As the conversation progressed a very common theme emerged. There sitting, talking, was a professional. As he shared, his pain was evident. Serving in a company for nearly five years, he "closed" a chapter of his life.
His personal story of long work weeks, low pay, few benefits, ingratitude, unappreciative supervisors, and little positive input filled his sullied demeanor. Hired to lead an team of nearly two hundred people in a organization which nearly failed in bankruptcy, the task was daunting. This task did not disturb him. He loved a challenge. And, there were many successes.
Listening past the words, and hearing his heart, a very clear picture emerged. Incompetence existed not in this person, but in the team around him. Long seated individuals in the organization pushed back after restructuring; a restructure that turned everything around! The verbal emotional attacks were well planned and continual. After months of personal attacks by emotional detonators, he was done.
During one of our conversations I asked, "How long ago did this take place?" The answer, "Four months ago." For four long months, almost every minute of every day, painful events rehearsed themselves continually in his mind!
Nearly 3500 years ago, a whole nation of several million people struggled with a similar issue. These people insured a nation's success and prosperity. Yet, they lived as slaves for more than 400 years suffering extreme hardships and abuse. Fed up with all they could take, they embraced a new opportunity, and headed out for the desert. Most know the story of Israel leaving Egypt heading towards a new promised land. Their leader, Moses, encouraged, "This is a day to remember forever -- the day you left Egypt, the place of your slavery.(Exodus 13:3)
Letting Go of Egypt
Israel left Egypt, but not really; not a first. More than 40 years after their departure from Egypt, they still looked back. They still remember their hardships. They still held grudges. They still coddled their hurts and injuries. Their captors, the Egyptians, still ruled their thoughts and feelings though absent for four decades.
Moses urged them, "Do not hate those Egyptians, for we were strangers in their land." (Deuteronomy 23:7) Apparently, there were family problems too! He urges the small fledgling nation, "Do not hate the Edomites for they are your brothers." His instruction, "You've got to leave all that hurt, pain, anger, and hate behind or you can never move forward."
Letting Go of Your Egypt
Can you imagine hanging onto bitterness, hate, or hurt for over forty years? In fact, I can. Done that with my dad. Done that with church members in a church I pastored. Done that with someone who wronged me. Done that, been there, and still continue to do that at times; unfortunately.
Here's the thing. Until you can leave your Egypt behind it's really difficult to move forward into your own promised land! My thoughts on how to let go of your Egypt:
1. Egypt Teaches Lessons Learned No Other Way. One of my sons who suffers from an autoimmune disease has suffered much over his thirty plus years. Watching him near death several times during his life, he's learned to squeeze happiness out every moment of life. His suffering reminds us that life is precious, it is temporary, and it changes without notice. His Egypt taught us to grab each moment!
2. Egypt Forces Necessary Changes. Truth is that adversity is a wonderful teacher! Did you know that Bill Gates first business failed? Albert Einstein didn't speak until he was four years old. Jim Carrey used to be homeless. Richard Branson has dyslexia. Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime. Charlize Theron witness her mother kill her father. And, Nelson Mandela was prisoner before he became president.
Egypt forces us to make necessary-difficult changes! Changes never contemplated apart from the hardships of your Egypt!
3. Leaving Egypt Means New Never Before Thought of Opportunities. Henry David Thoreau said, "All misfortune is but a stepping stone to fortune." One beautiful story of this is shared on American Express Open Forum. Lee Rhodes while suffering with a rare form of lung cancer left her Egypt. After getting to know many other cancer patients she started the company Glassybaby. Glassybaby produces amazing hand blown glassware. Glassybaby gives a 10% of its profits to to charities helping cancer patients. Without Egypt, no Glassybaby.
4. Leaving Egypt Often Requires Forgiveness. It was after forty-four years of his life before my father and I could enjoy some sense of relationship. It was not perfect or particularly fulfilling at times. However, apart from forgiveness there was no hope of any relationship at all.
Leaving Egypt requires rebounding from wrongs. It means learning from the hard life-stuff experiences. It requires letting go of negative draining emotions. And, it often means a release of hatred towards agents of pain, and a attitude of gratitude.
Gratitude? Yes, gratitude. For agents of pain direct me to agents of gain. How about you? It really is a choice. And, the choice is only up to you.
Just My Thoughts,
Don was born in North Minneapolis, Minnesota. Having served twenty-two years in South Africa as missionaries with his wife Kathy, and eight years pastoring in the United States, he shares unique perspectives about life, family, relationships, and ministry.