Over the last month or so, my e-mails have discussed the development of "object permanence." As developmental psychologists explain, it's understanding that various objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, heard, or touched. That is why babies who are Gabby's age find the game peekaboo to be so delightful. It's a pretty important discovery, as without it, a person or object has no separate or permanent existence.
I've been thinking about object permanence quite a bit these days. Gabby is truly tickled with the game of peekaboo. Whether we're hiding or if she's hiding (under a bucket seems to be one of her faves), she loves to be surprised and excited to see our faces when we hide and then suddenly reappear. In addition to this wonderful development, however, comes a side-effect known as separation anxiety. I've been noticing a few more traces of this recently.
See, before this developed, when I left the room, Gabby did not get upset, mainly because when she could no longer see me, in her mind, I no longer existed. You can't get upset about something you can't see or remember. As this has been developing, however, in addition to the delight of peekaboo, there has also been a pain of realizing that there may be times when I temporarily leave her. I try to explain as a mature adult that I will be really quick and that I'm just running to the store, but rational explanations don't take you far with a baby who has just realized that her Mommy is gone for some unknown reason and she isn't coming back right away.
I suppose that the Holy Spirit has been reminding me of the need for not only the development of "object permanence" in my spiritual life, but to develop the maturity beyond it, recognizing that in moments where I may not be able to see or feel my Heavenly Father, His promises to never leave or forsake me are still true, and I need not fear or feel any separation anxiety. Unlike my metaphor, however, God never really leaves me, regardless of what my emotions may be telling me. His reasons for peekaboo may not always be clear, but resting in the fact that He exists, He loves me, and He is faithful to all His promises can get me through those moments when it seems He can't be seen.
The last few months have been filled with delightful peekaboo moments. God clearly led Brad and I to step out, move our family, and plant a new church in Philadelphia. Then there were definitely moments that followed where I've felt pretty scared and alone, wondering if God remembered our situations. And just when I really begin to question . . . "Peekaboo!" He shows me something through other people or situations that is evidence that He has been working all along.
Hopefully Gabby will continue to mature and build her trust and love for her dad and me, recognizing that as much as is in our power, we will protect her, care for her, love her, and be there for her. More than that, however, I desire her to mature and grow in her understanding of object permanence for her Heavenly Father, knowing that even when we are physically not around her, He is always a presence in her life.
P. S. - Brad actually wrote some thoughts about this on his blog, too.