I actually wrote this blog about a month ago – but have not had the courage to post it. But this morning, reading this blog, I was given the courage to tell my story. I am thankful for a God who reaches out to His girls and affirms that we are, indeed, His beloved.
I had an amazing encounter with the Lord about two months ago. It came out of hurt and weakness, as many encounters do, and to tell you about it I have to be really vulnerable. So, as an offering to my King, I will open up about this area of my life and pray that someone will join me in healing and hope because of this story.
One day in December, in a joking manner, my husband called one of my children my favorite. When he said it, I became really defensive. My walls instantly went up and I dwelled on this idea for days. After I had gotten over my initial rejection of this idea, I began to look at my home and at my parenting honestly, and the truth is, he was right. I was demonstrating some favoritism towards one of my children. I love both of my sweet daughters – I truly love them equally. But there is one of my children who was just more difficult for me to be joyful as I interacted with her. I was more guarded with her. I parented her more negatively than I parented the other child. As I started dealing with this, I didn’t know where to go, but I felt the Lord lead me to Abraham.
Favoritism was rampant in Abraham’s family. You look at the line of Abraham in the Old Testament, the price that is paid even today because of parental favoritism was incredibly costly. It was a generational sin with great consequence, including competition between siblings, division in families, and marital conflict over the favored children.
So I acknowledged this sin of favoritism and frankly at first I felt powerless against it. I went to the Lord begging Him for healing and confessing this terrible sin towards my daughter, and as I dealt with it in my parenting I began to look back to my childhood.
If I am brutally honest, I can look back at my childhood and it is clear that I was not favored when compared to my siblings by one of my parents. That’s kind of strange to write. It’s not so PC to talk about parental favoritism. But I realized last month this is a reality I need to deal with. This sin of parental favoritism is pretty easily identified in every branch of my family tree – including the wonderful home I grew up in.
Many years ago in therapy, I remember my therapist telling me to not be afraid to face hard truths, but simply to face them, acknowledge them, and move on. She said that when we fear something and run from it, it has power over us. But when we acknowledge it and decide whether or not we will give it the power to define us, we can have victory.
So last month I said all of this out loud, for the first time in my life. I acknowledged that A) – there was favoritism that existed in our family, and B) that I was not the one favored. I felt bratty and needy in a way that I really was not comfortable with. But I said it. And it was freeing. I realized, in saying it, that it did not have the power to define me.
I had to deal with this truth because in not dealing, I gave it power, and I continued this sin into my family. Acknowledging this in love and grace was hard, but necessary. The brokenness in my family had become my brokenness without even realizing it – and acknowledging it was the first step in healing it. This was a defining reality and likely has much to do with some insecurities remaining in me and with my competitive nature I have to fight to control, especially with my siblings. So this isn’t something to mess around with – this is serious and I needed help from the Father to understand it and figure out what He was teaching me by revealing this, and then to get healing, for me and my daughter.
Because although it feels bratty to say outloud – I was hurt. It did bother me. I felt small. Unloved. Unworthy. Unchosen. Fundamentally flawed.
As the Lord began to open my eyes to this favoritism and to the history of it in our family, suddenly I wondered if the Lord wasn’t allowing me to feel this pain and this rejection because He was trying to wake me up to the pain I was causing my daughter and the rejection she was living with everyday. In realizing this, my heart broke for my little girl. I desperately wanted healing and to stop this sin of favor and rejection.
I didn’t know what to do with all of this. So I wrote about it to my sister, who loves the Lord and is very wise. I very tentatively wrote her a long email explaining where my heart was and why I was so broken over all of this.
My sister wrote back and lovingly, gently, and courageously affirmed my view of my childhood. She wrote “You’re right” and in reading that – I suddenly felt this pain and this weight that seemed to pin me down. Her words didn’t create that pain or that weight, but in reading her words I suddenly realized this pain and weight that had attached itself to me at some point in my past unacknowledged. I read on in her email. She wrote these words: I have this picture of you where you’re just growing– in every way– getting bigger and bigger as He fills you and breathes into you more and more. Little pockets of poisonous air are being punctured and aired out, and even though it deflates you for just a second, He is quick to come in and start breathing into that part to re-inflate you, bigger and stronger than you were before.
As I read what she wrote, I stopped and closed my eyes. I told the Lord how hurt I was, and how broken. I told him that I felt rejected, unloved, and unchosen. I asked Him to come into that place of hurt and to heal and mend my heart. And I felt him do it. I can’t explain it. The pain and the weight lifted off of me. Suddenly I heard in my heart “You are my Beloved.” That is not a word I use, nor a phrase I connect with myself. I believe I heard the voice of God in that moment affirming His perfect love for me regardless of my background. I can’t explain, even now, what it feels like to again realize the perfect unconditional love of my Father.
That night I faced my past with the confidence of one who is loved. I confessed hurt and anger towards my parents. I confessed the sin of resentment towards my siblings. I confessed the sin of favoritism towards my child. I begged the Lord for healing. I asked him for His perfect love to enter into my parenting. I begged Him to heal the hurt I have already caused in my child and to give her a foundation of favor and perfect love. As I went through this time of prayer, I felt weights lift off of me. I felt light enter parts of my heart that were dark. I felt cleansing take place in my soul. It was an incredibly powerful time. I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced anything like it. I was delivered from something, and something was healed in me. It was pretty amazing.
This all happened in the dark of our room late one night and early the next morning.
That next morning, my previously “unfavored” child came into my room. I am telling you – I looked at her differently. I felt my heart break for her. Since that day, I have understood her better, had more patience for her, less anger, less frustration. It has broken something in me. In the past several months, I haven’t lost my patience with her and my heart has continued to be soft when it comes to her – regardless of her behavior. I feel her pain and understand her better. And she is responding to that change. I am so grateful to the Lord for every moment of this revelation. He has used this knowledge and this reality to break something in me that needed to be broken. I am so grateful that He chose to heal this part of me I didn’t even know was broken.
He has given me His grace towards my daughter. His perfect, unending, delightful, overflowing grace.
And He has redefined me in that same grace.
I am His beloved. And that label, and only that label, defines me. And with His grace and His help, that will be the only label defining my children.
Jen, this is poignantly written, full of love and lessons learned. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you sweet friend. Isn’t it amazing the levels of healing there are for us to experience? Kind of crazy, really. Let’s get together soon. Praying for you – that the exact right door would open, and would open soon. Love you.
Beautiful, amazing post. I appreciate your transparency. I think it’s so easy when you’re in the active part of parenting to miss those flags, those tugs on your heart to do things differently. They’re so easily ignored when life is busy and kids consume. Thank God for his grace towards you that He opened your eyes and your heart so that the cycle was broken early. What a blessing!
You are right, Amanda – it was His grace that revealed this! I am so very grateful.
Oh man this made me cry. Just reading the word ‘beloved’ makes me weep. I think about Father calling me His beloved in the midst of my filthiness, my sin and downright rejection of His unconditional love for me, and most days it doesn’t compute. I was the favored sibling till my parents divorced. My real father favored me distinctly above and beyond my two younger sisters and his side of the family continues this “tradition” to this day. Once my mom was on her own she favored the other two above me, I assume because she so completely resented my father favoring me for so many years. I hated the distinction between the three of us and I can’t remember ever using it to my advantage. My father was particularly hard on my middle sister and she has never forgiven him or stopped throwing it in my face (she’s 29). I feel as if her hatred towards him (and me in some indirect way) has held her back in all aspects of her life (marriage, parenting, friends). I know she still resents me for being his favorite though I never wanted to be his “#1”. This conflict has kept us from growing closer and bonding like sisters should. I have begged her to get counseling, to let it go, to forgive him, to forgive me and she’s still holding on to the pain; as if it gives her some sense of entitlement I think. It doesn’t help that my mom feeds in to her insecurities and affirming her when she brings it up. I think my mom favors her in our adulthood to help make up for our dad treating us so differently. As the recipient of the favoritism I can tell you it’s no picnic either. I would give anything to have a deeper, genuine, sincere relationship with my middle sister but I just don’t know what else to do besides pray.
I think she misconstrues my forgiveness toward our father as condoning his abusive behavior when we were children. It’s hard explaining to her and my mother that I forgive because I am forgiven. I forgive because I don’t want to carry him or his mistakes around with me forever. I forgive because God made my father and God loves him and wants him to come back to Him. My father is a nasty man and he has done a lot of bad things in his life but HE IS BELOVED, TOO! I forgive because I hope that if I hurt my children, they will be able to forgive me.
I can’t bear the thought of creating tension between my boys because they knew that one was favored over the other. I am so proud of you for taking this to the only One who can heal these deep and secret hurts. You and your daughters are beloved!
You are totally right… This sin is so insidious and it damages everyone. I talked to my parent about this a month ago and it hurt them so deeply to realize the favoritism. It isn’t a choice they make – it is a sin that so easily entangles. But had I not experienced it with my own daughter, I don’t know that I would have been brave enough to understand it and face it. I love my parent – they are His beloved – more than they themselves know – and I totally forgive them to release them and me. Your comment is amazing. Thank you for posting.