Key verse for today: Genesis 16:6, "Abram said to Sarai, “Since she’s your servant, do whatever you wish to her.” So Sarai treated her harshly, and she ran away from Sarai."
If you follow Family Systems Theory, you can see Abram avoid Sarai's attempt to triangle him between her and her slave Hagar. Triangling is the concept of putting a third buffer person in between two people in the midst of conflict. Kind of like when an older sister becomes a go between with her younger sister and her mother. A differentiated person avoids triangles and directs the two individuals to work out their problem.
|Photo by Rene Asmussen, Denmark|
Those who like a free-market system would say that there's no need for regulation because when you mistreat your workers, they will leave you and you'll be stuck. So the system worked like it should in the case of Abram and Sarai.
It is easier to think about systems like this correcting themselves until we introduce real people into them. What if Hagar was your daughter? How does the passage read then?
There are times when people have dared to act like individuals around me (sarcasm meter). They have done things that I not only disagreed with but were actually the opposite of what I wanted to happen! People are messier than systems. Sarai thought she was in the right and for her culture and time, she was legally correct. But this story reminds me that I am fortunate to live in a country and time when the women I love have rights. My daughter's future is wide open.
I wonder how many times I've created problems for myself because I didn't acknowledge that a person was an individual with his or her own thoughts and values. I keep reminding myself that the way of Christ is to lift each person up. Even when it means I give some of myself away.
Maybe that's better than driving people away.
Breath prayer for today: God our Shield, protect all your people.