Monday, December 28, 2009

Best vs Favorite

A few years back, in an intro to film class, we had an assignment/exercise where we were to make a list of what we considered to be the top ten best movies, and another list of our top ten favorite movies. Upon first hearing this, I thought, these lists will be identical. I was really lofty in thinking that those movies that were my favorites were also the best, award-winning movies. After some thought though, I realized that even though The Princess Bride is easily a favorite, it is not the "best" movie when it comes to technical stuff about being a movie. Did it win a ton of awards or critical acclaim?

I don't remember what my lists were, and I'm sure my tastes have evolved a little bit since then, and more movies have come out, etc. Good thing this isn't exactly what this post is about.

But it is about something that I have been thinking about lately, which has a little bit to do with "best" vs "favorite."

It all started out when I couldn't find my favorite sweater. It isn't the best sweater in the world, it is only moderately warm, and moderately fashionable. But it is my favorite. I just really like the way it fits. Anyway, I stood on a chair and looked in the farthest corners of the closet, and could not find it. I could not remember the last time I had worn it, so therefore couldn't remember if I had left it behind somewhere (unlikely, but I couldn't explain why I couldn't find the sweater).

We had been doing laundry off the top of the hamper for months, so I assumed that the sweater was at the bottom of the pile with other clothes I had forgotten about. While looking through the closet, I found several sweaters that I didn't wear anymore, or that didn't fit well, and donated them to the Salvation Army. I figured someone else could benefit from them by wearing them more than I did.

There is one sweater that I would say is up there among my favorites, but moreso, it is one of the best sweaters I own. It is thick, warm, stylish, and fits well. I don't wear it often in the winter because it is so thick that my winter coat doesn't fit well over the top of it. But it is perfect for autumn and spring, when you don't need a winter coat, but still need to be warm. I decided not to donate that one, because I felt that I still would use it often. For whatever reason, I felt a little convicted, like, why is it so easy to donate the old, unused, too small, sweaters, but not your best ones? Shouldn't we give what is our best, and not just the leftovers?

And then of course my mind went to Cain and Able, in Genesis 4:2b-5a, When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the LORD. Abel also brought a gift—the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The LORD accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift.

I told the Lord I would think about it, and moved on with my day. Fast forward to a day or two before we left for Tallinn. We were working on making sure everything was clean before we left, catching up on dishes and laundry, and eating all the food in the fridge. After completing all the laundry, I was reminded that I still hadn't found my favorite sweater, and that it wasn't in the bottom of the laundry pile after all. I searched my mind to see if I could think of where it might be. I had a startling thought: maybe I accidentally gave it to the Salvation Army! It was startling for two reasons. The first being, "What a shame. I accidentally gave my favorite sweater away." The second being, "What a shame that I hold on to my possessions so much!"

Which got me thinking. I know that God wants us to give of ourselves. And not just our leftovers all the time, but things that are meaningful.

But which is better? To give of our favorite things, or of our best things? Or should we aim to live in such a way that our favorite things are also the best things?

I wish I could say that this story ends nobly. It really doesn't. I ended up doing a more thorough cleaning of my closet, and found my favorite sweater in the farthest back corner of the closet underneath another sweater. I packed it up and it went to Tallinn with us. The other sweater, the "best" one, still sits in the closet, undonated.

Hopefully in 2010, I will be a better giver, and a also a better housekeeper (so if I finally am able to give up my favorite and best things, I can find them).

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