Thanks to my huge extended family on my mum’s side, I have a whopping total of 11 (soon to be 12) nieces and nephews. And while I don’t have favorites, I’d be lying if I told you I love them all the same.
Lhiezzly, known as Elai to us, is the baby of the family. She’s only one year old but already knows how to command attention with her cries and sweet smiles. She brings my family so much joy, especially during these hard times. God knew what He was doing by giving us this sweet baby shortly before a global pandemic would bring lockdowns and travel bans. Especially since she lives right next door to my grandparents. She’s the apple of my grandfather’s eye and she knows it.
Lhiezzly at her christening on Christmas Day 2019
Then we have Geo and Jake, the youngest boys amongst my cousins’ children. These brothers lost their Dad when they were only babies, so everyone has a soft spot for them.
Geo is adventurous and full of life, sometimes dangerously so. During one of my visits, he tried to jump into the adult swimming pool and I had to scream at my brother to catch him. Another time, he tried to ride the neighbour’s two-wheel bike that was way too big for him and crashed. He didn’t even know how to ride a bike yet. Geo’s the kind of kid that I imagine inspired the saying ‘it takes a village’, but I can’t help but admire his courage and lust for life. I’m just thankful he has that village of aunties, uncles, grandparents and more to keep him safe.
Jake gives us less trouble, but he’s so feisty and so sassy. He’s most in his element when cracking jokes or telling stories about his crush at school, knowing it’ll make his aunties and uncles laugh and tease him. He loves being the center of attention. While Geo is more sensitive and affectionate, Jake is fiercely independent. You gain his affection and attention only upon proving yourself to be a fun, ‘cool’ adult. I love his confidence.
I could write a book on my family and how much I adore them, but you get my point here. My nieces and nephews mean the world to me. But they each have such distinct personalities, it wouldn’t be fair to love them equally or the same way. I love each of them for different reasons. That doesn’t mean I love one more than the other, I simply love them uniquely.
You see, love is more than a feeling you have for someone. Love is a verb, not a noun. When you love someone, you take actions to show your love and affection. When you love someone, you want the best for them. And the best kind of love is when someone action-word-loves you according to your unique personality.
A husband who loves his green-thumbed wife knows better than to give her a flower bouquet that will inevitably start wilting. He knows the best way to his wife’s heart is a pot of flowers that she can cherish much longer. A mother who loves her differently-abled child knows that the best education for her child may not be in a traditional school, but rather, in one that will cater to his unique learning needs. Parents with more than one kid wouldn’t give all their kids the same gift for Christmas. Instead, they would carefully choose gifts based on each child’s personality.
The best kind of love makes you feel known. The best kind of love makes you feel special. The best kind of love is unique. Which is why I’m thankful that’s how God loves us — uniquely, not equally or the same.
In her book Without Rival, Lisa Bevere writes that in our human attempts to make all things fair, we often think that God loves us all the same. But loving us the same just isn’t good enough for God. “The word same implies that we might be somehow replaceable or interchangeable,” writes Lisa. “Like, ‘Oh no, I broke one of the purple glasses I bought at Target last week; I hope they still have the same ones in stock.’ This doesn’t work for God.”
Sometimes when we’re not where we want to be in life, we start comparing our journey to others. We turn to God accusingly, asking him why he made this person’s dreams come true when you’re still struggling. Perhaps you even start comparing your faith to them, thinking about how they’re not even that Christian. Not compared to you at least. Surely if anyone deserves a breakthrough, it’s you. Right?
Well, not exactly. You see, God has a specific plan for your life, but you won’t accomplish that by comparing your journey to others’. Comparison won’t just steal your joy, it will rob you of God’s unique plan for you.
When we look at the Bible, no two people went through the exact same set of challenges. In the book of Job, Satan said to the Lord, “Job praises you only because he has a blessed life.” So God made a wager with Satan: “Destroy all that Job has, and you will see that he still believes.” Then Satan rained horror upon Job, killing his livestock and marring his flesh with boils.
Over the course of his story, we see Job struggle and contend with God. He didn’t think he deserved the tragedy that was happening to him, and he was right. He didn’t. Job was a good man, careful not to do anything evil and always faithful to God. But God knew Job. He knew Job’s heart and was confident that Job will be a testimony to everyone enduring suffering of their own. And behold, in the end, Job still praised God, and God restored everything back to Job and even blessed him with more.
In God, you are fully known and fully loved. He formed you in your mother’s womb and placed purpose in your life. He knew what would bring you joy and what would bring you sorrow, what would challenge you and what would be easy for you.
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — and how well I know it.” (Psalm 139:13–14 NLT)
God created you, formed you uniquely, designed a unique plan for your life, and as such, He knows what you need to go through to fulfil that plan.
So the moral of the story? Don’t compare yourself or your journey to others. God loves you uniquely and is always working on your behalf — even when you feel otherwise.
God bless. x