I have recently been exploring a concept called Attachment Styles in relationships. I’m finding it very helpful in the ongoing quest to understand myself and other people better.
The basic idea is this: because of our relational experiences early in life, we have learned a pattern of attaching to people (or not) in a way that continues, unless addressed, all through our life. It is deeply ingrained in our way of interacting with others. We usually don’t think of this behavior, often not even being aware of it at all. As we become aware of these patterns of behavior, we may find very healthy impulses, but we also may find very unhealthy ones. Here’s a brief synopsis of the styles of attaching:
There are 4 attachment styles: secure / anxious / avoidant / disorganized.
1) Briefly, the person who is a secure attacher relates easily to other people. They want relationship and they move and flow in a healthy way with others. They are comfortable within themselves and confident that, although not perfect, they are lovable and acceptable people.
2) The anxious attacher needs others to make them feel OK about themselves. They are overly dependent, often clingy and demanding. They are desperate for others to approve of them, so that they can “hold their head above water.”
3) The avoidant attacher doesn’t need anyone, or at least acts as if they don’t. They are overly independent and not especially concerned with relationships. Often they live in their heads. They might be viewed as distant, dismissive or arrogant.
4) The disorganized attacher flips back and forth between being anxious and avoidant. It is very difficult for disorganized attachers to connect in relationships. They are very confusing to others.
So you may be wondering by now why I am bringing up this kind of information in a devotional to God. Well, as I have been looking into my own attachment style, I realized it has been limiting me from living fully as the person God wants me to be. And this has several repercussions to it, for myself, for my relationship with other people and even in my relationship with God.
I believe many of us Believers are anxiously attached to God. That is, we are never secure in our relationship with Him. We feel we must beg Him, plead with Him, work hard for Him and do all the right things if we are to gain His acceptance and love. We never attain the surety of our belonging.
Others of us are avoidant of Him. Perhaps we don’t really believe He loves us or cares about us, so we don’t even try to get close enough to know Him. We don’t trust Him. It’s best if we just keep our distance, live our own independent life, and hope for the best.
If we are predominantly anxious, avoidant or disorganized, we might do well to look at how we relate to God. How would you guess our perfect, loving, accepting Father would want us to relate to Him? Though we are always dependent on Him, I believe He would want us to do so from a place of secure attachment. In other words, He wants us to be secure in the knowledge that He really has accepted us, even as the sinners that we are. He has forgiven us and is now working to set us free of all obstacles that keep us separate from Him and from rightly loving others as we do ourselves. He has invited us into His family, He promises to dwell with us, to never leave us or forsake us. He has promised to restore our souls. Will we accept His invitation and believe His promises? The answer to that question has profound implications to the way we will walk in the world…and beyond. I believe that if we can be secure in our relationship to God, there will be increasing health and healing in our relationships to others. Thank you, Jesus!!
"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me."
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."