As I sit in front of the fire this morning and my beautiful daughter aggravates me through the phases of her development (she is currently having a temper tantrum as I write this), I am reminded of the same phases happening in all of my children; The Up and Downs.
If you are a parent this may trigger a memory that you may or may not have recognized as a phase. Here is how it works, the child gets up and wants to cuddle. Then as most 18-30 month old children do, they want to get down and play. Here is where is goes from a tender moment to an annoyance. She comes back and you cuddle her again and quickly gets down in order to go and play again, or just find a way to get your attention. Once is expected, twice is an endearing moment, 10 times is a great annoyance.
Now I know the reason why she is doing this, but it doesn’t keep me from being annoyed. She is trying to simultaneously explore her identity as an individual and maintain her attachment to her parents. She is trying to, at the same time, explore a simple independence and maintain dependence. I also know that when a child does not complete a phase satisfactory it usually comes back or gets suppressed for a later therapeutic session, at least that it the theory.
She will then do one of the following (this is not an exhaustive list):
- Realize that she has the security of her parents and can explore her world as her own person
- Not feel secure enough to leave her parents arms and stunt her individual identity
- Not get the security she is looking for from her parents and decide to go it alone
- They will not leave the up and down phase because it seems to be working to meet their needs
How telling this is about how we approach God, or decide not to approach God. I maintain that most everyone will approach their relationship with God based on their experience with their parents. If I feel secure enough in my relationship with God I will move forward with my life in Him feeling the security to live out my identity while serving Him at the same. If I never feel secure enough in my relationship with God, I will continually try to rest in Him without ever living out my faith. If I don’t find my needs met in Christ I might decide to just live out my life without Him. Or we never leave the up and down phase constantly looking for affirmation of God’s love while constantly testing the waters of my independence.
The interesting dynamic here is that the Up and Down might seem like a good phase to be stuck in, cuddling up with God and going out to explore. However the essence of the Up and Down is insecurity and lack of Identity. I do not strike out because I don’t need God anymore, I strike out because I know my identity is not lost because I go. I strike out because I feel secure in His love.