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How attachment theory relates to our relationship with God

If you’ve noticed I’ve shifted to more faith-oriented posts, a lot of it is because I’ve been reading through “21 Days of Breakthrough Prayer” by Jim Maxim. After reading this morning I had a thought about how we relate to God. I was writing in my journal and came to find myself recognizing that the issue I was writing about was not most important, staying close to God is. When I maintain closeness to God, problems seem to carry less weight.

Then boom. Attachment theory came to mind. If you’re not steeped in therapy theories, let me give you a briefing of attachment theory in my own words. Attachment theory stems from development psychology, stating that children need a warm, safe place to call their “home base.” If you’ve ever heard of the Harlow’s Monkey study…this is what we are talking about. The monkeys didn’t go to the mama monkey who had food (only when they needed to), the actually clung to the monkey who was there very comfort. For relationship.

Now, a part of the theory also states that we have different types of styles of relating. I won’t get into explaining each specific style, but the thing to note is that there are ways we connect to others in a secure way or an insecure way. The insecurity can look like anxiety, causing us to question the other person a lot, or it could look like choosing to stay far away, believing we are better off on our own.

With all that theory behind us, let’s get to how it connects to our relationship with God:

1) We need to focus on the connection

When we focus on abiding in God, things in life seem a little less scary. We have that "secure base" from the attachment theory language to return to after going out and exploring the world. By focusing on connection, we are filled with courage to make positive decisions and take necessary risks. Spending time together...deeply knowing the basis for how we interact with the world around us.

2) It’s from the connection we are able to go off and do wonderful things

This is an echo from what was stated above. In further attachment theory studies, scientists looked at children in study lab and how they interacted with their primary caregiver. They would go off and play, and at times touch base with their caregiver or peek back to be sure they were still there when they needed the reassurance. That's the same with us. We can take a peek at God, knowing from spending time together that God is trustworthy and not going anywhere. From there, we can be brave in how we step into the world.

3) If we are struggling in our way we are relating to God, we can take a look at our human relationships

This is important to mention. Not everyone has learned what secure relationships look like in human relationships, which means we don't always know how to relate to God in a secure way. I can say this from experience. Healing our human relationships can be a dual process of healing our relationship with God. As I felt more freedom in one relationship, the other was also healthier. So, if you're struggling to trust God, it could mean your human relationships could also use some healing. The hardest thing about this is that it's through relationship we've been hurt...but it's also through relationship we are healed. Find safe people to learn how to connect with: to figure out appropriate boundaries, to learn what trust means, and to have a safe place to show your authentic self. We are hurt by people, but we are also healed by people. God uses people to bring us to know more of who God is.

So there...that was my attempt to intermix psychology and theology :) I hope you're able to experience closeness in both your human relationships and your relationship with God. Happy rooting, everyone!

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