“Madam Lim doesn’t hate anyone in our class. She loves everyone. But she doesn’t have to like everyone.”
That was my reply to a classmate when we were in Primary 3.
We were walking in twos up a makeshift staircase to our temporary assembly hall as my friend asked the group, perhaps as a trick question: “Do you think Madam Lim hates anyone in our class?”
It was not plausible to my nine-year-old mind then that our teacher could hate any student in the class, hence my answer.
But I also knew it was one thing not to be hated, but another thing to be liked as a child.
In my young mind, since everyone is already loved – as if by default – to be liked was the elusive element that made it more desirable.
To be loved but not liked felt like a lesser trophy, a consolation prize.
Perhaps it was the #asianparenting; I knew they loved me – but I wasn’t always convinced that my parents liked me.
Especially when I failed my Math exam, when I didn’t match up to other kids in some way, or when I didn’t get into that secondary school.
Few of us might contest that our parents love us, but the debate on who’s the favourite child – the one they like most – can be a touchy topic.
And perhaps that’s why some of us get tired of hearing “God loves you”.
“He says that to everyone! And I’m sure He likes (so and so) more.”
You might not be challenging the notion that God loves you in general, but you may be unconvinced that He really likes you – specifically you.
Think about the people you’d want to hang out with for lunch – these are the ones you like. You enjoy their company, you’re interested in their opinion on things and you want to hear about what’s going on in their lives.
And the truth is, that’s how God feels about us. He’s not indifferent; his love is not lavished upon us indiscriminately or casually – but very purposefully. He knew what He was signing up for when He proclaimed His feelings towards us on the Cross.
God knows each of us.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
And He likes us! He wants to hear about what’s going on in our lives. He doesn’t just love you out of obligation or from afar. He’s deeply interested in all that goes on in our lives and He wants to be with us.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalm 94:18-19)
“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
Dare you let your heart rest in the truth that your heavenly Father delights in you?
He doesn’t compare you to the next person and He doesn’t ask you why aren’t you like so and so. God made you in His image (Genesis 1:27) and you – yes you! – are wonderful to Him.
So won’t you lay aside your buts and ifs and boldly love Him back?
When we finally come to a place where we know once and for all that we will always be deeply loved (Psalm 100:5) by our Father, our love for Him shall never wane – but only grow with each passing day.
That’s what a favourite child’s love for his perfect Father looks like.
Will you be His favourite child?