I was sitting with my daughter Alaine at Grace City Church in Lakeland, Florida the other Sunday when Pastor Andrew asked, “Who in here knows you are your parents’ favorite? Raise your hand.”
I didn’t even have to look over to know what was taking place next to me. Sure enough, this gal I birthed shoots her hand straight up in the air before he even got the words out of his mouth. Son Austin was also in attendance, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw him lift his hand too. I smiled. I leaned over to Alaine for the following exchange.
Me: “If I’m doing my job right, each one of my kids firmly believes he or she is the favorite.”
Of course, she wasn’t buying any of that.
Alaine: “Oh I know I’m the favorite. There is no comparison.”
As I lay awake in bed later that night, I thought more about this. I was impressed with her confidence and conviction while being equally proud that Austin also raised his hand. That was a huge compliment. It’s a mom thing, I suppose.
I could no more choose a favorite child than choose a favorite breath.
Each one of my kids is a piece of my heart walking around on two legs. Our relationships are unique and offer me the chance to love them, appreciate them, support their interests and learn from them along the way.
There are also different seasons with each kid, some more enjoyable than others. (Pro tip: Those teenage years can actually be fun and the anticipation of them leaving for college is worse than when they actually leave.) But even in the toughest season, choosing a favorite kid is literally impossible—despite Alaine’s determination to wear that badge of honor or Austin’s insistence that it’s actually him, or the thoughts of our other two kids on the matter. It isn’t like choosing your favorite car, food, color, or movie.
Here’s the kicker though.
When I think about me, my siblings, and my own parents, I swear I’m the favorite. I feel that same confidence. Oh, I am the favorite. I’m sure of it. Haha. No seriously, I swear.
There’s an eyebrow-raising irony in how I feel as a child compared to how I feel as a parent. It’s as if the two sides of my brain know different things and are not communicating. (Happens often.) As a child, I feel so loved by my parents that I could not possibly be second to anyone else. Yet as a parent, I know that loving one child so much it hurts doesn’t mean parents don’t love the others just as immeasurably.
I think that’s how God sees each of us.
Sometimes we see our relationship with God more like a parallel existence alongside a detached, distant, order-taker, wish-granter in the stars. Yet the reality is God loved us so much that He sent His only son to die for us. That’s not something God did for just the people of the stone age or the first century. That’s something that was done for you, for me, for everyone past, present and future.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Not only that, the Bible tells us because Jesus died to cleanse us of our sins, we can boldly approach our God who is holy and without sin (Hebrews 4:16). Go ahead. Ask. Use that same confidence you feel as a kid knowing you are the favorite (even if you only think it’s some of the time!) and approach your Heavenly Father.
If it’s hard for you to wrap your head around that, note that in the book of Matthew, Jesus compares our relationship with God to that of our earthly parents.
Not only should we approach Him with boldness, but with confidence that He will provide.
Oh, we may not get the answers we want when we want them. But His timing is perfect and we can trust that He delights in providing for us and will . . . but according to His plan not ours.
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11).”
So, go boldly and with confidence knowing you are a cherished favorite of the One who sent His son to die for you. That makes you stand up a little straighter, doesn’t it?
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32).”