When I had small children, it was enlightening to make observations about how God loved me based on my experience as a parent. This is the way I’ve heard our relationship with God explained throughout my life. He is the Father and I am His child.
In recent months, my nest has emptied. I still have a lot of coming and going and I am not alone for long periods, yet no one lives at home full-time anymore. As a young parent, I thought when this stage came my children would no longer need me. What I have discovered is they need me in an almost bigger way. However, it is a much different way. They are very independent. They do not need me to feed them, wash their clothes, or be their driver. They need someone to listen when they are making a decision. They need someone to ask for advice when they have their first car accident. They need someone to ask about how to start finding their first home. Often these questions are asked to parents and the answers are not simple. The rules are not black and white like they used to be when they were young.
If the parent/child relationship is an example of the relationship we have with God, does my relationship with God change over time? Is it OK for me to need God less? Is my relationship supposed to always remain that of a helpless small child who is only capable of black and white thinking? Is the relationship I had 25 years ago with God the same one I should have today?
Is it OK for me to need God less?
When my youngest was 18, she flew alone for the first time. Unfortunately, the worst case scenario occurred. As soon as she arrived at the airport she found her flight was seriously delayed and she could not make her next flight. She called nervously, almost in tears, asking what to do. I told her to go see an airline agent. When I picked her up that evening, having been through a tough day, re-routed through a different airport, and an extra flight, she was exhausted but confident. She could handle the situation the next time it came up. She would not need to call me other than to let me know of the change.
The last several years of my life have been challenging, difficult, and profoundly growing. At the same time, I have had a struggle with my relationship with God. For a long time I felt I did not need Him as much, but that seemed counter to everything I had ever known. Was that wrong? Bad? Am I supposed to ask anyway? Should I pretend I do not know the answer? Am I allowed to be independent? Is it OK to be self-reliant sometimes?
Now I realize it was actually that I simply did not need Him the same way. I knew what He would tell me about many of my questions and did not have them anymore. I trusted Him more, so no longer needed to beg forgiveness multiple times or ask again and again for guidance and reassurance. Afterall, we have been through more together. Just as my children are needing to go through this developmental stage of becoming adults, perhaps this is exactly how my relationship with God is supposed to be too.
While I will always be dependent on God in a very real sense, I am an adult and I am independent. I have come to think God also may not want the exact same childish relationship we had years ago. I am still His child, and in comparison, I will never truly “grow up”, yet it has changed. The problems I am bringing to Him are different because I am different. Since I am different, obviously our relationship will change.
The good news is God knew all along I would change and grow and just like I love hearing about the ways my young adult children’s lives are changing and see how they are thriving, He does too. I am so glad He was prepared for this and was patient while I went through my time of adjusting and acceptance of our new relationship. Now, I wonder what the future holds?