I have a picture in my head. It's of my four-year-old son clinging to my leg in one of those "mommy, don't go!" moments. We don't have them often anymore, but they do still happen. He wraps his entire body around me, and I absolutely can...not...move until I disentangle myself.
[You should know something at this point: he's not little. He weighs 52 pounds and is 45" tall. (Yes, he just turned four in February!) He has some heft, and he is very, very strong (future linebacker, anyone?). So, when he wraps himself around me like a car around a lightpole, it's really quite a thing. I have to brace myself not to fall over right there on the spot.]
And if he's feeling scared or insecure in any way...well, you can forget about it. I usually just find a way to get to the ground without sitting on his head and let him curl up in my arms for a minute. (He is definitely a "physical touch" love language kind of dude...if he needs comfort, it's all about holding him.) This can get tricky if I'm holding a bag of groceries, but, well, the things we do for love, right?
And that's what this is all about. I might be in a hurry, embarrassed, annoyed, impatient, or whatever, when my little guy decides he just...plain...needs me, but the only response is love. If I can get past the fruit (the whiny, clingy, needy behavior), I can get to the root: he needs me to love him in that moment. He needs me to speak to his heart.
Once I see that, I can fill him up.
But that's not why I've been walking around with this picture in my head. Nope, that would be too easy.
It would be too easy to stop at the part that is all about him. It would be too easy to stop just short of reflecting on how I could stand to learn from his behavior.
So I've been thinking. And seeing. And pondering.
Do I cling enough?
Do I cry out to God, giving him all the mixed-up, coming-out-sideways emotions in whatever way they choose to come out in the moment, not really caring about how He's going to respond because all I know is I need Him?
Do I throw myself at His feet and hold on for dear life, especially when I feel insecure about what's happening around me?
Do I put myself under His shadow, letting His tall frame cover over me?
In short, when I most need to, do I cling?
Life has been a little challenging lately. A few weeks ago my husband and I felt like we got a glimpse of the promised land - that God was taking us out of a really challenging season and releasing us into a place flowing with milk and honey.
But then all of a sudden we couldn't see it anymore. Everything fell apart. Everything got hard. We began to doubt. Had we heard God at all? What were we doing? Why is this suddenly so hard - does that mean we're doing the wrong thing?
The world was spinning, and I began to spin right along with it. To my shame, I reacted the way the Israelites did in the desert: with grumbling and outright yelling at God. I did not react with the faith of Joshua when I saw the giants before me (see Numbers). Unfortunately, I got bitter.
And then my four-year-old teaches me a lesson. He gives me a picture of clinging.
I want to get better at it. I want to run to God, not because of what He has or has not promised, has or has not delivered on. I want to run to God because there's absolutely nowhere else for me to run. I want to cling to Him because there is no one I trust more.
I want to believe that He is my greatest source of safety, comfort, love, and act like it by clinging to Him instead of waving my fist in the air, blaming Him for whatever's happening or not happening in the moment.
I'm so thankful for my children (for all children, really, but I am partial to my own, I admit!). They teach me such invaluable lessons.
The next time one of yours has your leg in a wrestling hold and all you want to do is die of embarrassment, remember the picture they're giving you. Receive it as a gift. Use it to examine your own level of clinginess. Are you there yet, in that unembarrassed, full-flung, completely out-of-control place that is reserved especially for parents? Do you treat your Heavenly Father that way?
I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it, lowering my fist and opening my arms for a good, firm cling.