Do your kids ever accuse you of favoritism? Mine never had—until a few weeks ago.
On our first day of Thanksgiving break, I ran to the store for a few last-minute ingredients, an errand which took longer than I’d anticipated. No big deal, normally, but on this particular day my family had somewhere to be in an hour, and I realized I was running out of time to make lunch for my two children. So I called home, where my younger daughter answered the phone.
“Hi, sweetheart. You must be getting hungry. I’m going to grab some lunch for you while I’m out, okay? I’ll bring it home as soon as I can.”
“Okay! Thanks, Mom! I love you!” And we both hung up happy.
Ten minutes later I sat in my minivan, contemplating the half dozen cars ahead of me in the drive-thru line. My phone lit up in my purse and I reached for it.
A text from my older daughter.
Here is our exact conversation.
For real. What mother would buy McDonald’s for one hungry child but not the other? I was kind of thrown, I mean, surely my daughter knows I love her just as much as I love her little sister, right? I don’t play favorites. I never have. What in the history of my parenting has ever suggested inequality? It was lunchtime for us all—how could my firstborn actually think I would treat one girl to fries and let the other starve (or suffer a homemade peanut butter sandwich by comparison)?
Is it, really?
Because we do this, too, don’t we? With God.
Lord, why did my co-worker get a big fat promotion while I’m still stuck in this dead-end job?
How does that other mom get a baby who sleeps 12 hours straight when mine is still up three times a night at age 3?
God, you repaired my friend’s marriage. Why won’t you fix mine? Don’t you care?
Why does she get that beautiful hair and that perfect skin and those quartz countertops and a vacation home in Florida?
I can’t believe you’re giving the good stuff to someone else and not to me!!
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1a)
The truth is, God’s love is enormous, infinite, and complex. He loves us as a Father to His children, only better, because He is not limited by human parenting imperfections. Does He love us all equally? I prefer to think He loves us each uniquely—because we are custom-designed, created by God for unique purposes. We are each a one-of-a-kind model, which makes us irreplaceable, rather than equal in a cookie-cutter kind of way.
It makes sense, then, that His gifts to us would be unique as well. Yet they do not indicate favoritism.
His love is too amazing for that.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17b–19)
If you’re a parent, you get this. When a new child is born into the family, our hearts don’t divide to share a limited quantity of love and affection. They grow to make room for a whole new individual, someone with unique traits and desires we long to fulfill. Even my McDonald’s visit illustrates this truth. I bought lunch for two children, yes, but I ordered different menu items according to their preferences—cheeseburger for one, hamburger for the other. Ketchup for one, no ketchup for the other. Pickles for one, hold the pickles for the other. In other words, the gift fit the child. Not equal, but unique.
God knows us each better than we know ourselves. He gives us what we need, when we need it, which may look different from what somebody else gets but that’s God’s business, not ours. Comparison is the work of the devil. Let’s not allow it to steal our joy.
Because one thing is for certain. God is not sitting in the drive-thru plotting which child He wants to disappoint today. To paraphrase Saint Augustine, God is always thinking about each of us—as though there were only one of us. And that is a depth of love we may never fully understand.
We can only accept it.
Praise the Lord.
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This post first appeared on TheCourage.