Cling to your child. Cling to your momma and daddy. Cling to your big brother or sister. Cling to your husband or wife. Cling with all your love. Give it everything you’ve got. But what do I say to an Orphan? Cling to who? Cling to what? What do I say to a single person with no best friends or close-knit family? Cling to yourself? Cling to your work?
The list goes on. We are surrounded by people who have no one to cling to (or at least that’s what they think). Seeing Valentine’s Day is upon us I refuse to write just for Eros lovers. Everyone reading this has at one time or another had the strongest desire to just have someone to love whether it be a close mom-daughter relationship, a rock solid brother in Christ or a “come over anytime” mission minded grandparent. We long to love in a way that I believe is best described by the word cling.
For clarity throughout this article let me tell you what definition of this word I’m using. Unlike the word “clingy” which makes people think of unhealthy obsessive type relationships, I am choosing the word “cling” in the way it was meant to be hard working, attentive, and unconditional when it was used in describing a lifelong commitment: marriage. But what I know from my own life experience as well as from talking to others is that the desire to cling is rooted in the needs of childhood stages up through adolescents; it is a powerful and Godly desire that lives in all of us and it lives in many circumstances, not just marriage.
We are all not so different. I need Agape love and so do you. Phileo (brotherly) and Storge (parental) love, too. But when instead we hold ourselves back from opening up in depth and set limits because of fear of regrets, we set ourselves up to never get to a place where we show on the outside who we are on the inside. Where we can pour into each other. It is here we lose “hand in hand”, we lose “my house is your house”, we lose food for our souls from many dinners we never invited anyone to sit at.
From my experiences of having lived in Zimbabwe I have experienced a way of life right here in 2017 that I imagine would make most of us think of the 1950s (minus the electricity). THIS is a world where people cling with all their hearts. For example, here is an everyday conversation between two village neighbors passing each other on the dirt road:
Bennet: Hello my friend, how are you?
Belo: I’m OK brother but I just came from Shumi’s place and she has no food today. I was only able to give her half my bread loaf because me and my mom have not yet eaten either.
Bennet: OK, I don’t have any food but let me walk to my relatives place some miles away to ask them for some mangos from their tree. They also have very little food but I know they will let me pick a few mangos!
Belo: OK! that’s great! I will talk to a few others as well. She will not remain with nothing by the end of the day.
Do you see this network of care? It is a type of Godly clinging. All those involved may have little to nothing but they will never go a day without checking on each other and splitting a loaf of bread between families is an ordeal full of smiles as they have formed a habit of caring for each other and instinctively cling.
Now of course things are not going to go that way in an American society where people can survive physically without each other for the most part. However what I am witnessing is that despite our 1st world, 21st century, independent abilities to take care of ourselves we are not in actual fact caring for much of anyone let alone ourselves.
Falling asleep talking about all of life’s challenges and victories with a friend, or singing spiritual songs until you are yawning together, are things that remind us all of our childhood. Or maybe if you were lucky, you had a best friend like that in college. My point is: our need to care for each other and our need to be deeply open with each other grows as we do, but we cut it off and tell ourselves, “No! we are now grown ups!” Orphans have to try to deny their need to cling at a stage when they could want nothing more than then a proud dad, a protective adoring big brother or a close knowledge of God. But we are all humans. I have seen this for myself. From orphans in Africa to Americans “no longer dependent” we all run for cover trying to protect ourselves all alone where no one can break our trust, attack us in any way, steal from us, or disapprove of us. It’s there where I see so many sitting alone whether surrounded by belongings or in an orphanage room having nothing to surround them. Everyone seems to be seated there yet still having a deeper seated longing in their hearts to cling.
I know it’s scary. I know it’s easy to feel broken to the point that the thought of not “protecting yourself” might sound just plain stupid or crazy. Trust me, I know. I have sat in that place many many times wrestling with myself about whether or not I could survive my trust, love, and openness being hit with yet another sledge hammer. But something I have discovered over the years is that having to take my heart to the “hospital” over and over again us better then shutting it down all together. I have also learned that taking my heart to the hospital is not isolation (although it certainly calls for high doses of God time). No, the hospital is the place of clinging. Clinging to God. Caring for others (more blessed to give than receive) and being open with people who can counsel with their life experiences and knowledge of the scripture.
Every time I turn to the Bible, I learn all my heart’s weakness and strengths. One day when I had to take a good hard look at my broken pieces, I saw something I had never seen before. My heart was starting to cling even stronger when it was broken. Like a vision I saw my heart as a mirror shattered, and as all the pieces lay together, only then was it was able to stay together and shine in MANY DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS rather than just one.
So this Valentine’s Day I am putting out a call for all of us to check on each other, be there for each other, be brave enough to be with each other in complete openness of heart, letting everything you do be done in love. I challenge you to leave behind the lonely protection you once called your hearts recovery room and I pray you go out to the hospital of Cling. It is there you will be blessed and be a blessing. When we cling to one another as Christians through this life on earth our hearts become so strong it becomes something to stop and stare at for others. We go from being the patient to being the understudy of The Great Physician.
Author’s Note: Happy Valentine’s Day dear brothers and sisters. Now go out and dare to cling, and please pray for me as I go cling to these orphans and teach them to trust and love one another.