My grandson’s separation anxiety stage came at the wrong time.
Not wrong for him. At thirteen months old, he was developmentally right on target. He could recognize Mommy and Daddy for who they were and was establishing them as the priority people in his life. I’ve seen babies passed from person to stranger to friend that go to the extreme of trusting everybody with no discernment.
So when I saw my grandson bury his head in his mama’s shoulder that weekend they came to visit us, my head told me that this stage of life was emotionally healthy. But why, of all times, did he have to go through this phase at this particular time? For months, we had looked forward to Memorial Day weekend when all our side of the family would be together: my mother, my brother and sister and their spouses, a niece and her children, several cousins, my daughters, son-in-love, and most important, my grandson.
But the little guy wanted nothing to do with his greatest fan.
He wouldn’t let me hold him. He turned his head when I tried to read to him or feed him. Toys held more allure than the hand that held them. Any time Mom or Dad left the room, he looked up with anxious eyes and let out a wail. This couldn’t possibly be my grandson. My grandson never cries.
I was crushed. All weekend long, I tried to gain his favor. With a final whimper, he settled into his car seat for the trip home.
“It’s just a stage,” my daughter said over the car roof. “He’ll like you next time.”
I had wanted him to like me this time. I also wanted to wipe that slightly satisfied smile off my daughter’ s face but I understood. I had smirked like that once when she was in my arms. It felt kind of good that she preferred me above all others. It’s the way a mother ought to feel.
I wonder if God likes it when we get a case of spiritual separation anxiety.
Those times when we’ve felt adrift, wondering where He’s at. Those moments we look up from the worldly pleasures we’ve collected around ourselves and seek His face and decide focus on Him is much more satisfying. And then those days we put our to-do list aside so we can spend time with Him. That inner conviction that we want Him more than any essential part of life. Because we’re entering a stage that no one else brings peace, joy, and contentment like He can. Only He will do.
I imagine He likes it a lot. He’s wired us to be that way. He doesn’t want us to fully trust every person; he wants us to trust him so much that we want to stay close beside Him and not run off. He wants us to show that He is our priority person, the One we’re attached to more than any other. Like the challenge the prophet Elijah lay down before the people of Israel at Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18:21) or Joshua’s challenge to the Israelites after they settled the Promised Land (Joshua 24:16), God wants us to choose: him or the gods of the earth.
Are you feeling some separation anxiety in your relationship with God?
Do you ever feel off kilter when you haven’t spent time in His Word or when you’ve been out of communication with Him? For reasons out of your control, you missed being with God’s people last Sunday and your week just hasn’t seemed the same? You’ve had an overload of shoulder rubbing with those who in worldly ways and you just want to go off by yourself and be with your Lord? Do others act dismayed when you put your God relationship above them? Or you find yourself so sick of the evil and corruption in this world, you just wish Jesus would hurrty up, come back, and take all of His faithful to the heavenly home?
Guess what? You’re doing okay. You’re showing a healthy sign of spiritual growth. And unlike James who did grow out of the Mommy cling stage and adored playing with his grandma two months later, healthy spiritual growth means your enjoyment of God’s presence will expand more and more as the years go by and you will become more disconnected with your earthly lifestyle.
Someday, on the other side of eternity, you’ll revel in His continual presence, for there is nowhere else you would rather be.
What signs of discontent with this world have you noticed in yourself? When do you feel separation anxiety from your Lord the most?
Read the full story of Elijah’s action call here.
Read Joshua’s declaration of his choice here.
Write out your conviction statement that expresses your desire to stay close to Jesus.