Do you remember having your favorite toy when you were little? Maybe it was a teddy bear or a dollie or a blankie or a book - whatever it was - you carried it EVERYWHERE! Your mom had to pry it away from you because it was covered in dirt and needed to go through the wash. It was a comfort to you. It was your friend and you loved it more than anything else you owned. I don't remember having a favorite toy growing up, though I'm sure I had one or two. My brother Jesse had a bunny blanket that he took everywhere and rubbed the satin ribbon on it for comfort. My brother Dustin had a stuffed Big Bird that he carried all over, everywhere he went. That thing was so tattered and worn. It had to be washed many times. The eyes on him were worn off. My brother loved his Big Bird well. He loved it so much, he never wanted to be without it. My friends Paul & Melissa have a daughter named Annie. Annie just turned four and she has had a stuffed bear named Bear Bear since she was a baby. She cannot go to sleep without him. She takes great care of Bear Bear, but he has become worn and tattered and has a little hole in him. He's not very cute anymore. Paul and Melissa feared the day that Bear Bear was lost or was ruined, so they scoured the web searching for a replacement Bear Bear and found one! They purchased it and Annie received it as a gift last year. New Bear Bear is beautiful! He is very soft and fluffy. His fur is very pretty and he doesn't have any holes. He's a great little teddy bear, but Annie doesn't like him. He's not HER Bear Bear. He may be more beautiful and newer and softer and less tattered, but he's not her friend who has helped her sleep every night. He's not her companion. So, for now, new Bear Bear sits on Annie's dresser. She plays with him from time to time, but she still totes around Bear Bear and still takes the tattered, old Bear Bear to bed with her at night.
As I think about Annie and my brothers and their little stuffed animal friends, it makes me think about relationships and how we hold them. I have a lot of friends - people I love and care about. But of my friends, there are only a few who I consider to be my close friends - the ones I share my whole self with, the ones who get to see the good, bad and ugly parts of me. For me growing up, I had lots of toys to play with and I loved them all, but I always spent my time playing with my Barbie dolls. They were my favorites and I spent a lot of time dressing them and brushing their hair and making up a whole world for them. And that's how I view my friends. I have a lot of them and I love them, but my close friends - they are my Barbies. They are my go to, my "toy of choice," my favorites. And as I think about those select few who are my favorites, it's a very diverse group, just like my Barbies. I had lots of different Barbies growing up and was always drawn to the ethnic Barbies because they had dark hair and eyes like me. And my close group of friends is a melting pot of men and women, young and old and everywhere in between, gay and straight. Blondes, brunettes, baldies and gingers are represented. There's all sorts of walks of life everyone comes from, different cultures and races, different religions and family values. Everyone is very unique. And that is why I love them so very much. But as I think of the length of my relationships, I don't have many "old" friendships. I have one close friend yet from high school (18 yrs). I have two close friends from college (10 yrs). And the rest of my friends are people I have know for seven years or less. And as I said in my last post, when I love, I love big. So it seems a bit odd to me that I don't have a lot of "old" friends. And as I reflect on that and why that may be, it's because even though they may have been one of my favorites, I wasn't one of theirs.
I have what I call, "Second Best Syndrome." I become someones friend and we are really close, outsiders would see us and think that we have known each other forever even if it's only been a few months. We would share the deepest parts of ourselves, laugh together, cry together, comfort each other. We would be each other's Bear Bear. But then something happens. A new Bear Bear comes along, and instead of the new Bear Bear being put on the shelf, I am the one who is cast aside to play with later. I don't even know how many times this has happened to me over the course of my life, but as I reflect on it now, it has happened to me ever since I was a little girl and knew what friendships were. I honestly don't know if I've ever been anyones favorite. I'm not the favorite child or the favorite aunt or the favorite grand-daughter or the favorite co-worker or the favorite friend to anyone. And as I graduated from college and began looking for teaching jobs, I was the second choice a half dozen times. And in my romantic life, I have been the second choice at least three times to my knowledge. And as far as friendships go, I don't think I've ever been considered someones best friend. And if I wasn't placed second to another person, it's been to other things (work, school, sleep, depression, comfort, etc). I know this probably sounds silly, but I ache to be someones favorite. To be the first person they call to share good news or bad news. The person who they want to laugh with and cry with. When I am seventy, I want to be able to have a friend I have walked through life with closely. And I'm not sure what it is about me that always puts me in second place.
There is one person who will always put me first and that is my Father in Heaven. Like Annie, he sees the beauty in the tattered fur and holes. He sees a priceless value on our companionship and walking through life together. With God, I will always be first and He will never put me on a shelf or cast me aside because something newer and better and prettier came along! And for that, I am forever grateful. But as I walk in that truth, there is still a void, an ache in my heart to have that sort of companionship here on earth. And maybe I won't ever know that, maybe I will never be anyones "favorite toy." Or maybe the only person I am meant to be favored by is my husband (when I finally meet him). I don't really know.
And who knows, maybe second place isn't so bad either...