Attachment to God?

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One of the things I talk about with the families I serve is the attachment cycle, that built-in mechanism through which all infants learn about their world and their worth as a human being. Attachment is very important to proper human development. The cycle goes like this: (1) a baby has a need, (2) their body is alerted that something is not right in their world and they express this distress. (3) A caregiver comes to meet the need. (4) Trust develops. Baby learns that someone comes to help them.

Attachment relates to answering questions of identity such as ‘who am I?’ ‘Am I precious?’ ‘What is my place in this world?’ This cycle also sets the early stage for us humans to understand the world around us. “Is this a safe place?” Here is a graphic showing this cycle in infants, but keep in mind that this attachment cycle does not go away as the baby matures. All humans move through this cycle throughout our development. When a baby’s needs are met, attachment grows. In fact, this is the mechanism through which attachment grows.

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When needs are met with a caring adult, the cycle comes to a beautiful closure where the baby is satisfied. Then, when a new need arises, the infant knows that their expression of a new need (crying) will be satisfied by a caring person. And the cycle continues, getting stronger.

But when there exists no caring adult, this attachment cycle is broken. In the graphic below, arousal refers to the feelings and body sensations that occur due to the need. It is in the arousal stage that the infant expresses a need (#2 above).

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If a caregiver does not meet the infant’s need, this leads to emotional and physical distress and the cycle of attachment is broken. Infants who have had this cycle broken too many times will simply stop asking for help. In an infant, it may be that they just stop crying. But internally, they are still very much distressed and it will come out in other ways. As the infant develops physically, gowing into a child, then adolescent, then adult, this broken cycle from infancy still registers deep within them. They have come to believe that people are not trustworthy. This is broken attachment. They do not ask for help with words, but they may ‘act out’ due to unmet needs.

I use TBRI to support families with children who have come from a hard place – whose children have had this cycle of attachment broken too many times. Basically what I am doing is helping adoptive and foster parents support a new and healthy attachment between themselves and their child. There is always hope!

Let’s go back to the first picture I posted.

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Do YOU have this kind of attachment with your Heavenly Father? Admittedly, I am working on this, myself. Have you considered your attachment to God in this way? Do you have trouble ‘expressing a need’ because you don’t think He will meet your need? The psalmist knows the truth.


If you would like to learn more about how you can create a new and healthy attachment with your child, please let me know through the Get In Touch button. 

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