Were you one of the kids who was a top-pick when teams were chosen or a last-choice?
I think I was chosen early because I was tall and athletic, but what I remember most about the choosing process was the anxiety of waiting to see what would happen.
I would stand in the back of the group, both because of my height (not wanting to stand in front of anyone) and also my fear that I would not be picked (it would be less obvious that I was not being picked because no one had to walk around me). I wanted to be picked so I would know I was seen and valued, and I was also anxious about whether I would be a help or a hindrance to my team.
That memory came back to me when I was preparing to write an Advent reflection for my alma mater based on the readings for December 8.
In Luke 1:26-38, the phrase “…you have found favor” made me think of Mary searching, trying to find favor with God. I thought of people who talk about seeking or searching for God, as one might search for clues in a scavenger hunt.
But the reading from Ephesians (1:3-6, 11-12) tells us that it is God who chooses us, that “in love he destined us for adoption.”
Finding favor with God, I believe, is more about being pleasing to God and about receptivity—being open to the goodness God wants to give. We don’t have to search for clues to find God; we have already been chosen.
We can put up roadblocks to receiving God’s favor—perhaps a resistance to change or a sense of our unworthiness. I think back to my anxiety about being chosen for a team as a child and see how my fears and insecurities probably blocked my ability to be my best. And I can look at other moments and events in my life and see where my resistance served as a shield to block God’s favor.
As I thought of Mary hearing that she had found favor with God, that God was pleased with her, I thought again of the prayer a friend had given me: Lord, help me to accept the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is. Mary, I think, accepted the truth about herself and was able to be open to receive God’s favor.
Is there anything that is keeping you from being open to receiving God’s favor?