I work with toddlers for a living. Along with getting paid to jump on a trampoline, play with paint and glitter, and snack on Cheezits, I also get to deal with the process of “separation”. That’s where a young one is separated from their grown-up – parent or nanny, as the case may be – for the first time. Sometimes this is an entirely painless process. Other times it is emotionally shattering – for the toddler and their caregiver.
We’ve started the process with a few kids recently and it’s made me reflect a bit on our relationship with God.
In that scenario we are obviously the toddlers. It’s scary, and new, and uncertain. We’re leaving the comfort of the known for something frightening and unknown.
The process at my job involves gradual separation. The caregiver will stay and interact the first day. The next time they come, they’ll stay, but they won’t interact. They allow us to play with the kids and offer comfort and support. Eventually they leave altogether and ideally the child is ready. Sometimes they’re not. Grown-ups are always required to say goodbye. No sneaking out. When the adult leaves, we assure the kids that they’ll be back at the end of class. Grown-ups always come back. The kids learn the truth of that reassurance.
Sometimes this process is as hard for Mom or Dad as it is for the kid.
I sometimes see us in that scenario. We are uncertain, scared, uncomfortable. But I imagine God has just as much of a hard time as we do. Will we make it? Will we be happy? Learn? Grow? Find love? Fulfillment? And yet, he gives us a hug, says goodbye, and sends us on our way.
And he’s always there. He’ll be there at the end of the journey. Guaranteed. And really, he’s there at any point along the way. All we have to do is reach out. Sometimes he’s there in the form of friends, family, or even strangers. Just as I, am a teacher, am there for my kids when their usual grown-up is out grabbing a coffee or yoga class.
Listen guys. We’re all in this together. God loves you, He cares about what you’re doing with your life, what you’re going through, He knows and feels what you know and feel. His heart aches for your pain, and swells with your happiness. We are separated for a time, but that separation is a necessary part of the growing process. Lean into it.