Sunday, March 7, 2010

Playing Favorites

I’m going to tell you a secret but I’ve got to ask you to keep it to yourself. See, I love my brother and sisters and I wouldn’t want their feelings to be hurt. And this information might just do that, so please don’t tell my secret.

What could such a potentially hurtful secret be, you ask? Here it is – Of all us kids, I was dad’s favorite! Oh, he never came right out and said it… not in so many words. But we had this special bond, and it was unmistakable. I tried not to let on so as not to hurt their feelings, but on the other hand I reveled in his favor unashamedly.

Now, that may sound like a question to you, but it wasn’t. It was really his special code word that indicated to me I was his favorite...

I remember one time when I was really young, maybe three or four. Dad worked as supervisor on a freight dock. As I remember the story there was some damaged freight, or salvage freight or something of that nature. I’m not sure of the particulars. All I remember is dad’s lunch pail packed FULL of Butterfinger candy bars. Dad stepped into the door of the house and declared, “Who’s my pal?” Now, that may sound like a question to you, but it wasn’t. It was really his special code word that indicated to me I was his favorite. So I bounced up off the couch yelling, “I am, I am”. Dad handed me that lunch pail and tried to hide his crooked grin as I unlatched both sides and raised the lid.

Of course, in retrospect I suppose my brother and sister may have interpreted the “Who’s My Pal” line as their special code also. And maybe it was just that I was closer to the door so I got to dad first. But I remember thinking that whole pail full of candy bars belonged to me, and they would only be allowed to feast at my pleasure. In truth, I’m sure mom confiscated the entire bounty and doled them out to each of us in reasonable portions.

In August of 2000 dad passed away, and our conversations were all consumed with memories of him. After a short while it began to dawn on me that my older sister, Linda truly in her heart always felt sorry for us boys because she was dad’s favorite. And then I was astonished when my older brother, Joe disclosed that he honestly knew he was dad’s favorite. Of course, my little sister, Brenda, who came along 16 years after me had never even entertained a doubt that she was dad’s favorite.

This was a major revelation to us. We all agreed we honesty felt we were the favored child, and we all marveled at the skills dad must have possessed in order to pull off such an awesome subterfuge.

I was sharing this story with my buddy, Paul, and he related a similar sentiment about his mom. Then he told me that at her funeral the preacher shared that she had ‘a separate heart for each of her children’. And it dawned on me… dad didn’t pull off any subterfuge. There was no intent in dad’s heart to make any of us think we were more prized that the others. He simply had a heart for me, and a heart for Linda, and a heart for Joe and a heart for Brenda. And we all felt that love and knew it was personal… and it was we who assumed the others were less favored.

Our Heavenly Father is like that. He has a heart just for you, and if you will fellowship with Him… if you will be His pal, you and He will develop a special bond, with special code words of affection. And you will realize that ‘you are his favorite’. And you are!

But that’s ok. See, mom is still with us… and I’m her favorite! Shhhhhh

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