Words of Worth

Playing Favorites

November 2, 2012

Recently I watched an episode of a sitcom about a family in which the children asked the parents if they had a favorite child. The mom immediately assured her three children that they were all loved infinitely, while the dad clearly declared his oldest son as his favorite child.

The show reminded me of a similar scenario in my own life and one that is probably quite common in many families. Children tend to question, “Do Mom and Dad have a favorite child?”

I am the youngest child of three, and the only girl in my family. Often my dad will say that I am his favorite daughter! Easy enough for him, right? However, it was never enough for me to be the favorite daughter because that never said as much as being the overall favorite child. My status as the choice child had to transcend genders!

I am not quite sure how this all started, maybe I was insecure growing up with two older brothers, but for many years I have had an ongoing competition with my brother Rick, the second born in our family. We have competed for years to declare who the favorite child is…Rick or Sheryl? Interestingly, we never included Ron in this contest as we just ruled him out as non-threatening right from the beginning! So for many years, Rick and I, okay more me than Rick, would do outrageous things to declare our supremacy in the hearts of our parents.  I had my picture glazed on plates and mugs that were used in holiday dinners, wrote poems such as, “Twas the Night before Sheryl’s Birth”, and even lined the long walkway to my parents’ front door with pictures of myself , the favorite child, perched on sticks as a way to welcome my family on that particular holiday. This campaign raged for years until….until my parents ended the debate.

During one August family gathering, my parents had a birthday party for my oldest brother Ron. Remember him? The one Rick and I cast aside as “not a threat” in the favored child competition? When it was time to sing and cut the cake, my parents unveiled a huge sheet cake that had a picture of Ron on it as well as icing writing that read, “Happy Birthday to our #1 child!” That brought the competition to a screeching halt!

Not one to give up so easily, I then tried to declare that I was God’s favorite. However that effort was short lived because early on in that pursuit, I read Job 34:19:

…who shows no partiality to princes
and does not favor the rich over the poor,
for they are all the work of his hands?

My family and I have many fun memories of the contest for favorite child and we often laugh together as we recall and remember our holiday tradition. However, these days I have stopped jockeying for the favorite position within my parents’ hearts and within God’s. My parents don’t play favorites and neither does God. However, God does grant His favor (to gaze steadily with interest) on us as He pleases. He granted favor on Noah, Samuel, David, Mary and many others as they humbly served Him and were obedient to His will.

I hope my family always happily remembers the contest for the favorite child, but more than that I pray we would long to be remembered by God with favor. Like Nehemiah, I do not seek to be the favorite as much as I seek to be favored by knowing Him, spending time with Him, and obeying Him. (sv)

“Remember me my God with favor.”
Nehemiah 13:31

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