Thursday, November 15, 2012
There is already much research out there talking about the importance of attachment or what is sometimes known as "object relations." The theory stresses that the nature of the early relationships we form with significant others in our lives, that begin with our parents, whether positive or negative inform the way we do relationships for the rest of our lives. Some of us learn to avoid others because we believe that they cannot understand us, others of us learn to prize others while holding ourselves in contempt, others of us become confused about who we can trust and who we can't, and others still learn that we can trust others and partake in healthy relationships. Current information now leads us to believe that the way we learn to do relationships early in life is related to the way we approach our analysis of God and our attachment strategy toward him. This research suggests that God attachment can be explained in one of two ways: Our relationship with God directly mirrors our relationships with early significant others (correspondence model), or that our relationship with God can compensate for the failings of earlier significant relationships (compensation model).
The large implication of this new research is that it has the potential to explain the disparities we may sometimes encounter when considering why some individuals are resistant to conversion or belief in God, and why others of us have a hard time while in relationship with God. Many of us become so frustrated when because we feel that God is far from us because he is either angry with us, disappointing in us, or about to hurt us by abandoning us again to difficult circumstances. Some of us may feel that God is untrustworthy and manipulative, so we decide to keep him at arms length. This research interjects the possibility that if we could understand the dynamics of our relationships with others, we may be able to better understand our current standing, or struggles with faith. On the other side of the equation is the great potential for restoration in our broken relationships. A fresh encounter with a loving God may indeed have the potential to free us from past wounds, and usher us into a new world of experiencing relationships.
The point here is that however our current schema for deciphering relationships is shaped, we can glean some insight from those relationships to inform how we do relationships with our God. It is in my opinion that a small dose of insight can go a long way with understanding our frustrations, and encouraging our healing.
Bretherton, I. (1992). The origins of attachment theory: John bowlby and mary ainsworth. Developmental Psychology, 28, 759-775
Beck, R. (2004). Attachment to god: The attachment to god inventory, tests of working model correspondence, and an exploration of faith group. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 32(2), 92-103