Saturday, December 16, 2023

I'm God's Favorite

Just over a year ago, I started working full time. After spending 19 years as a mom first, photographer, editor, babysitter, artist, crafter, serial entreprenuer, etc second- it was quite the change. Here I was in a room full of grownups- a handful of whom were older than me, but most younger and I realized something. I kind of have a favorite complex. My nieces will tell you that I've always had it, but this was the first time that I realized it myself. I just really like to be the favorite. I tell people all the time that I'm my parents favorite child (just ignore my siblings when they say, "nuh uh, I'm the favorite"- to which I reply, "I'm the baby, gotta love me.").  During training, there were two of us and I continually found myself pushing to be the trainee that was most beloved. Ironic, because at the same time, I found myself loving those I was working and training with.
    As I progressed at work, moving seat locations and learning more duties, it would be the same; in every row, every specific manager, and every cluster. I just really wanted to be the favorite for each spot. I wanted people to be happy that I was there. I wanted people to notice if I was gone. I wanted to make each spot better for having come, having called, or having have crossed my path. Also in turn, the opposite would happen. I again, grew to love each person I sat next to, behind, across from, in a row with, and who I learned from. Turns out I was better for having been at each spot. My confidence also grew. I knew that I had a power to shape the feelings and attitudes around me. I wanted to be in a place that made me smile more? Well, then I guess I better make those around me smile more. I wanted to see reminders of gratitude on the wall- I guess I better get sketching and get some sparkly push pins.
    This came to a head in the last few months when the biggest work change happened and I actually moved buildings/job titles/coworkers. I was for sure the one there with the least education now working with people who before I had known (and maybe shaken my fist at) behind a computer screen. But I put myself out there and I let them know that I was the favorite. I told them that I was the favorite because I had decided that I was the favorite and it didn't really matter if they thought I was the favorite, I was just going to go move along and hunker down with the assumption that I most certainly was. And ugh, can you believe it? Turns out I'm learning to love these guys, too. I've been out of the office for a couple of weeks with health issues and gosh darn it, I can't wait to go back and see 'em all.
    What does this rather long declaration have to do with my rather bold assumption that I'm God's favorite? Well, I started the Book of Mormon again today- always bittersweet and I'll be starting it again in a few weeks with the New Year, but it's ok. But today, I started laughing a little bit because Nephi, who at 16ish years old, starts this incredible book of scripture out with....
    "Hey, I'm Nephi. I have awesome parents who taught me well and BTW, I'm 'highly favored of the Lord in all my days.'" He then, of course, continues to talk about the things he's seen, a story his dad told, and then finishes up the first chapter with something akin to, "so now I'm gonna show you all the reason's I'm the Chosen by God." Of course, those were not his exact words. He actually said, " But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender cmercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of ddeliverance."
    I want you to notice a couple of things. The first is that God never said He loved Nephi more than His other children. Nephi decided it. "over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith." 
    Sometimes Nephi gets a bad rap. He's so confident. He talks about having power over his brothers and cites some times where their dad was pretty rough on the older two. But here's the thing. Laman and Lemuel- they were also of goodly parents. They, too, had been taught in the language of their Father. They, too, had seen miracles and been saved from destruction and sent to the promised land. God loved them just as much as He loved Nephi. So why didn't they feel like the favorite? Faith. They didn't choose to see those miracles as such. They didn't recognize the tender mercies of the Lord. Chances are, they didn't love the people with the desk next to them the same way someone who has decided they are the favorite did. They instead became the victims of their own attitudes, unbelief, and refusal to recognize the light that's there. Why does it matter that they weren't vying for top spot? 
    I have another story that might seem like it doesn't fit, but it does. A few years ago, I was studying my patriarchal blessing. That was a challenge because I don't have all super positive feelings about mine, but it was time. I was discussing some of the words with a friend and how very generic it felt. My friend said, "Sometimes I think they aren't worded beautifully because God wants to tell you himself how He feels about you. You should ask Him. I think you are one of his favorites." She might not have used the word favorite, but it is the feeling of the word that resonated. After much trepidation, I did finally ask Him. I asked, "Is what this friends said true? Am I one of your favorites? Do you really thing that I am something special?"
    I fully expected that all over warm feeling that leaves you without a doubt. But I received a question in return. He asked me, "Does it matter?" It felt like a gut punch. Was he saying I didn't even matter?! But no, no. Remember that being offended is a choice. After much thought the second part of the question came. "Does it change how much I will bless you? Does it change how many of my commandments you'd keep? Does it change your faith in my Son?" and then there was peace. While still not a warm, fuzzy answer, it was much food for thought. It's taken me until today to realize that choosing to be God's favorite is so much more choosing to serve Him and love Him and be his right hand man than feeling a pat on the head saying, "Yup. You're a favorite."
    Favorites are the favorite because they choose to love the people they are with and the situations they are in. They know that you might have to do a little extra sprinkling of glitter to help someone feel loved for them to notice if you're in the hospital for a week. And while it can on the surface seem petty and selfish, that morphs so fast into a true and genuine love. Like Nephi, I want to tell everyone of all the tender mercies God has granted me. I have so much evidence of His love for me! Entire galaxies, oceans, forests, gardens, memories, temples, populations..... are PROOF that God loves me just so much!! But here's the can be His favorite, too.

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