“Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” Genesis 29:32 NIV
Yesterday we talked a little about polygamy, and the misery it caused to so many biblical women. One of the reasons of course is that it hurts to feel you are less than someone else, particularly to feel less loved. This happens in the sibling rivalry we have also looked at, and in every possible human relationship and community there is potential for someone to feel overlooked, second best, last in the pile.
One of the wonderful things about knowing God is that he loves us all with an equal fervour. Like the portrayal of God in William P. Young’s book “The Shack”, where the Lord speaks of each person mentioned by saying, “Oh yes, I am especially fond of x.” God has no favourites in that sense, she is equally besotted by each one of us, exactly as it should be (and hopefully usually is) with the way parents love each of their children.
Where this goes wrong, and there is a favourite, or where a husband or wife prefers someone else (or even some activity) to their spouse, there is a deep soul-wounding that is very hard to heal. Adultery is incredibly painful for the one cheated on. It is an action that says, “your pain means nothing next to my pleasure” and that is horrendously selfish. Marriages can recover of course, but trust is a terrible thing to break.
A golden son or daughter overshadowing another sibling and being treated very differently affects self-worth in terrible and long-term ways, resulting in spoiled narcissists on the one hand, and those who will struggle all their lives with believing their own worth on the other.
Positive mirroring, love, valuing and treasuring is what we all need, from parents and spouses, and what we all equally need to give out. We do not need to be “top dog” or the alpha male or female, just to know that we are enough as we are and beloved without having to compete with anyone else for the honour of affection, or the keeping of vows.
With the Lord, we only have to be, and this can give us the confidence we need to worry less about our place in anyone else’s esteem or affections. It doesn’t necessarily stop those situations like Leah’s being painful, but it does mean that there is a deeper and more reliable love that can be a big part of our lives, helping to heal the pain of feeling second best.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”1 Peter 5:7 NIV
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