Most of all
I know this probably makes me a heretic, I began, but I'm pretty sure God loves me more than anyone else in the world. My kindly spiritual director laughed and assured me that in fact, St. Thérèse said something similar, so I couldn't possibly be a heretic. It was in the early days after my dad's death, when I was shell-shocked and bleary-eyed in the midst of sleepless nights and that surreal phrase kept coming and coming in countless cards: your father's passing.
Yes, the darkness of grief has settled firmly in my heart. But it has not come alone.
The heart-wrenching sorrow I feel has come with the presence of God, that sweet, mystifying, elusive presence of God. He's come to me in the night as I lay awake, desperate to sleep. He's come to me in the gentle smile of a friend, in quiet whispers in prayer, in the daily miracle of the Eucharist. From the kneeler of my favorite pew to the slow-moving checkout line to the weekly loop with my running club, God has made Himself known to me. I've heard His unmistakable voice of love in countless ways too precious to share. Again and again, He's flooded my soul with consolation and grace. And again and again, I've been in awe.
Do I actually think that God loves me more than anyone else in the world? Well, objectively speaking, no. Of course not. But the two major life traumas I've just undergone have carved out a cavernous space in my heart to receive His love like never before, and I can't help but speak of that love in the most dramatic of superlatives.
Never before have I felt so weak, so needy, so desperate.
Never before have I relied so heavily on others.
Never before have I fought so hard just to keep my head above water.
And never before have I understood myself to be so deeply, dearly, unconditionally loved. Loved by my Father in heaven who has taken my earthly father to Himself. By the Author of my life who has written into my story a wild turn of events that couldn't have possibly come from a hand other than His. By my Savior who sweated and bled and wept like me. By the Paraclete who stands beside me, holds me up, opens me to that flood of divine love my little heart can't possibly contain.
Jesus, St. Thérèse wrote, it seems to me you could not have overwhelmed a soul with more love than you have poured out on mine.
While I can't begin to imagine the spiritual depth of a doctor of the Church, and I can't possibly compare my experience of God's love to anyone else's, I can echo these words of the Little Flower.
Jesus, it seems to me you could not have overwhelmed a soul—a pitiable, hurting, broken soul—with more love than you have poured—and keep pouring and pouring with each rising and setting of the sun—out on mine.
If, in this fog of grief and grace, God allows me to believe that I am His favorite?
Well, I accept.