Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Favorite-ism

In my Grace Life courses, they say that each person has three core lies that have shaped our life apart from Christ: a lie about God, a lie about ourself, and a lie about others. As we understand those lies, we begin to see a lot of what motivates us to live and act the way that we do in our flesh (flesh being dependence on self to meet our needs rather than depending on God to do that).

I remember when I was 10 or 11, my family got a new puppy, and I asked my step-mom if I could be the one to feed it. She asked me why, and I said, “I just want to be someone’s favorite.” At the time, see, I had at least one, if not two, baby sisters (I can’t remember exactly how old I was) and I am guessing that I was dealing with adjusting from being an only child for 10 years to being one of two (or three).

The story about the puppy is kind of cute and bittersweet – what kid doesn’t struggle some when the new baby comes around? But I think that this desire to be a favorite has continued to simmer in me, and may even be one of my core lies. I want to be significant and accepted (other words for favorite), and I depend on many different things to meet those needs. Sometimes it’s work, and so God gives me the gift of failure, like when the IV chapter I staffed went from 150-plus students down to 30 in a span of three years. Sometimes it’s “stuff”, so God gives me the gift of dissatisfaction with my “toys” that I buy.

Lately it has been people. I’ve felt extremely lonely in recent months, but am knee-deep in a river of wonderful friends. I have a small group of great people at church, a regular group of men that I meet with each week who really encourage and refresh me, some wonderful go-to guys that I can call on at any time, and a wonderful wife who has become my dearest friend. I’ve got friends on IV staff, friends at church, friends at other churches. Yet I was feeling so lonely and alone. Why? Because Diane and I didn’t seem to have another couple who was our “best” friend. We weren’t anyone’s “favorite”.

A couple of weekends ago we went to the mountains with two other couples who spend a lot of time together, and while I was excited to go and be with them, my thinking was dominated by worrying if we were the third wheel couple, and so I put on my fearful lenses and saw interactions through those. I was not myself, overthinking all that I said, and eaten up inside. Everything in me told me to just keep it in, to not risk with my friends and admit my junkiness and survive the weekend. But the Lord has given me another gift, the gift of being open and vulnerable (which is not always a fun gift) because I’d rather be known than be alone. And so I shared my heart with the men, and I was so encouraged. Not only did they affirm their love and concern for me and my identity in Christ, but they also shared their own fears of insignificance, and I think our friendship deepened and moved forward that day.

One thing that I began to think about while talking with them and praying was that maybe “favorite” is a term that God would rather us not use. Favorite implies ranking, puts people in classes and orders and elevates them on worthiness to be loved. God would rather us love and appreciate people uniquely, connecting with them on different levels of depth and interest, appreciating them in the moment for who they are and what our relationship is. He also reminded me, again, that my significance is only in Him. Not in people. Not in work. Not in stuff. Sadly, I also realized how long fear of not being the favorite has tainted so many relationships, leading me to be selfish in some, to run from others, to be fearful in still others.

I don’t think that the Father, apart from Jesus, has a favorite in His Kingdom. Except that I am His favorite me. You are His favorite you. Uniquely and wonderfully made, not ranked against other children, not judged or justified on a sliding scale. He simply and consistently loves, who we are, as we are, giving us significance and worth through Christ and the price He paid on the cross.

2 comments:

Rachel said...

can totally relate to the desire to be the fav and want those special couple friends... i'm secretly hoping our beach trip works out that way?! "will you, the benbows, go with us, the flahery's? yes, no, maybe..."
anyway, appreciate the reminder to let myself be God's favorite me.

Matt said...

Good word. Some days it comes down to saying "God likes me." in my mind over and over during the day. What is it in our hearts that makes us so prone to not believe we are loved?