There are many examples of favoritism in the Old Testament. Abraham showed favoritism between his two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Isaac then showed favoritism between his two sons, Esau and Jacob. Later, Jacob shows favoritism between his two wives, Rachel and Leah. As Jacob settles in, he has 13 children and the first thing we read is that Joseph was his favorite son, whom he gave a beautiful coat of many colors.
Sometimes I think that as parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, we don’t realize what we do to our families when we show favoritism to one child. More than anything, every child wants to feel special to their parents; every child wants to feel loved by their mom and dad. It doesn’t matter whether you’re five years old or 50 years old, you still want to feel loved and special to your parents. When we show favoritism, it causes great pain.
So, today I’m answering the question, “What could we do to stop the pain in our families and build stronger relationships?” Let’s look at three ideas.
Love & acceptance
First, if you want to create a loving spirit in your family and relationships, focus on creating an environment where there is love and acceptance, where all of your children or grandchildren feel a sense of love and acceptance. It is more important than the home you provide, the clothes your children wear, the school they attend, the car they drive; do they feel they are loved and accepted? I bet you hungered for that; I know I did, we all do. This is a basic human need.
Second, if we want to change things, it means we have to learn how to celebrate uniqueness. One of the things I find a lot in counseling and talking with people is that we seem to think that love means sameness, love means if we’re going to be a family and love each other, we all have to agree, we have to like doing the same things. that’s not love! Love is willing to celebrate uniqueness and diversity! Love doesn’t celebrate success, it celebrates effort.
Third, there is no healthy, strong family without forgiveness no matter how much we love each other, invariably, it’s going to happen and we’re going to hurt one another. That can be overcome if there is forgiveness. If there is not forgiveness, the family is dissolved forever.
When we are willing to love, accept and forgive one another, we can lead fuller richer lives. Those who walk in faith, those who live in the spirit and the love of Christ, will receive God’s blessing; the gifts of God’s love.