Our 21-month old son, Reuben, is going through a particularly clingy phase at the moment. It has reminded us of something Cathy wrote way back when Reuben was just six months old and going through something similar. It was a helpful little reminder to us, so we thought we’d edit it a tad and post it here for you too. Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Human beings are made in the image of God. That means lots of things: we’re creative; we’re made to rule; we’re communicative; and we’re relational.
In the beginning, when the Lord was creating, he declared “good”over everything. That is until he made a solitary man. In all of creation, the only thing that was “not good” was that this man was alone. After the Lord had made a woman for the man he then stood back, admired his handiwork, and with satisfaction declared that the universe that he made was “very good”. (Note that, feminists; God thinks the addition of women is the icing on the cake!)
This makes sense when we think about the nature of God. A triune God. A loving community. Father, Son and Spirit loving each other from eternity past. If the creator of all things is by definition a relational community, then it makes sense that human beings are wired not to be solitary creatures but to live in community too.
That’s why in Genesis 1:26-27, God says this:
“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”
Which takes us to our son Reuben. Reu is six months old. He’s (most of the time) pretty easy to please. He has some physical needs that we have to meet. He needs food when he’s hungry. He needs sleep when he’s tired. He needs to be bathed, changed and kept clean and dry. He’s needs to be kept a happy temperature. But even if all these things have been seen to and he’s perfectly content, he still needs one other very important thing. He needs company.
Reu is a little human being and he’s a social creature. Nothing starts him crying more quickly then when we walk out of a room. He hates being alone. That’s why he’s happiest when he’s playing with someone, when he’s being cuddled and sung to, when he’s sleeping in our bed (we’re trying not to love it so much, and break the habit!). But of course the reason he loves these things is because he’s one of God’s image bearers. And while he will become more independent from us as parents as he gets older, and while these years of physical affection and constant cuddling are short lived, Reuben will never outgrow his need for relationships. He will always crave them and we pray his life will be full of satisfying and loving relationships.
So as I (Cathy) struggle to do any housework because my little boy wants me to carry him and Scott’s out at work… or as we relent and let Reu sleep in bed with us because it stops him crying… or as I flinch because as he tries to affectionately stroke my face he ends up scratching it to pieces… we just need to remember this; he’s acting in accordance with his God given desire to be in community. There might be one or two things to work on there. But fundamentally we can rejoice that our precious son bears the image of our triune God.
So – clingy child or image bearer? Probably a bit of both. But here’s a wonderful truth to remember when Reu being clingy is beginning to annoy us:
It’s not good for Reu to be alone.
We’ll try to remember this the next time he scuppers our plans.