Genesis 37 begins one of the longest, most detailed stories told in the Old Testament, the story of Joseph the Dreamer. Most of us know the story, but for those of us who don't, please allow me to share a short synopsis:
Joseph was one of 11 brothers, with only one brother being younger than he. Joseph was his father, Jacob's, favorite son; his brothers knew that and disliked him for it. Joseph dreamt two dreams: one where his brothers bowed down to him and another dream where eleven stars, the sun, and the moon bowed to him. These signified Joseph's family, including his father and mother. When his father heard of his dream, he rebuked Joseph himself, not believing it could ever come to pass.
There are a lot of ups and downs to this story because soon after, Joseph was sold into slavery, promoted, jailed, promoted again, then demoted. When he was at his lowest, two men asked him to interpret their dreams. The two once worked for Pharaoh; one was a cupbearer and the other, a butler. Joseph's dream interpretations were correct, but Joseph remained in jail while those two men went free. Pharaoh hanged one of the men, but the other went back to doing his job alongside Pharaoh.
Pharaoh dreamt a set of dreams two years later that greatly troubled him, but no one could tell him what the dreams meant. It was then that Pharaoh's cupbearer, whom Pharaoh freed two years ago, remembered the man who correctly interpreted his dream. Pharaoh called for Joseph, who broke down the meaning of the dream stating that a time of plenty was coming, but that scarcity would follow. Joseph was then freed and promoted to second in command and ruled under Pharaoh for that entire period, fourteen years. When food was plentiful, Joseph made sure that Egypt set aside food for the impending famine. When the famine came, Joseph saw his family again. They couldn't believe he was alive, let alone in such a place of power!
Joseph's brothers called him a dreamer but got the surprise of their lives when Joseph came out on top all of those years later. God delivered him to his purpose, time after time because he trusted that God would keep his promise. There were drab conditions along the way, but Joseph knew that his God would never leave him.
The story of Joseph is inspirational to me because it makes me think a lot about the things that I've gone through and the evidence of God's presence. I mentioned earlier that God delivered Joseph to his purpose; I feel he's doing the same thing for me and it only started to take shape once I began to dream again.
As a child, I wanted to help people. I knew that I wanted to be a doctor, a scientist, or a teacher and give something back to the world, but somehow, I got away from my childhood dreams. I chased a different dream instead; one where I played in venues packed with a multitude of upper tier classical music lovers in formal wear. One where being secluded in the name of honing my craft was an inevitability. Looking back, I'm not sure whose dream I was living, but it wasn't my own.
I've got a family now. Life is different because I've realized that I want to be more present for my children, which has sparked my dreamy mind. Sure, I could punch a clock until I retire, but I'll only do that if I can't dream up a better way to increase my value. Thinking back upon who I wanted to be as a child has given me a better starting point for becoming who I wanted to be all along: a giver, a healer, and a mentor.
Don't let anyone discourage you from dreaming, Boss Woman. Driving without a dream won't lead to the ideal destination so keep your environment positive and welcome the creativity that can get you to the right place at the right time!
Jeannelle "Jean" Burton