If you begin intentionally looking at everything in life through the lens of connection (“attachment” in clinical terms), you will begin to clearly notice the centrality of the human need for acceptance and belonging and, conversely, the universal human fear of rejection / abandonment. These two survival based themes pervade all of human experience. We now know why. Our brains are literally hard-wired for safe, loving connection because from the moment of conception human beings cannot survive apart from attachment to their primary caregivers. Once born a child can be fed and clothed and sheltered but without safe, attentive, loving connection in all its expressions and forms, a human child cannot develop in a healthy way; the actual clinical condition is therefore known as “failure to thrive”, a tragic phenomenon witnessed in orphanages all over the world. Without this kind of emotionally, spiritually and physically secure connectedness the child’s brain will become wired by the fear of rejection and abandonment which, on the neurological level, is tantamount to the unconscious fear of death. A child cannot develop in a healthy way when preoccupied with the unconscious fear of death and all of the debilitating manifestations of that fear (things like anxiety, worthlessness, shame, etc.). When One80 Life focuses on the preeminence of healthy connection with God, one’s self and others, the platform is literally helping people understand that nothing is more basic and essential than the pursuit of what in fact is the underlying foundation of life itself. Without the recognition of this most important human need, every other goal, task, mission, or effort misses its purpose and therefore does not contribute to the building of peace and wellbeing within and among humans and God. Many of us have had the experience of giving, doing, and accomplishing, all in the name of serving God, only to end up burned out and disillusioned. Why? I mean isn’t that what we are supposed to do? The answer is no, we are not. If we take a moment to step away from our culturally imposed obsession with doing we simply cannot justify acting in a way that does not reflect the teaching and example of the Jesus we claim to follow. He always, always, always kept healthy connection with His Father, Himself, and others at the very core of what constitutes the abundant life He came to give us. I believe we have replaced what He clearly taught with obsessive doing because what He taught us has been hijacked by our cultural value for accomplishing things, for producing activity with little or no thought to the actual lack of spiritual benefit or growth produced by all that frenzied activity.
Assuming that all makes sense, let’s now take a brief look at what constitutes healthy connection. Going back to the basics of survival as the prime mission and organizing principle of the human brain, we need only look at what promotes not only survival, but health and wellbeing in all of its forms: safety. Safety - emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally is the essential and indispensible element that facilitates healthy connection. Safety is experienced when we treat ourselves and each other with respect, kindness, compassion, consideration, grace, and love, humbly understanding our shared experience of life in a fallen, imperfect world. Healthy connection with God requires that we believe He is the Perfect Embodiment of the relational elements of safety listed above and simply allow Him to love us. I say, simply allow Him to love us, but as a therapist I know it is not that simple. So much of the unhealthiness of people’s experiences with God is the direct result of having the kind of damaged sense of self that disallows them, sometimes even prohibits them, from believing God could love them. This is where the sacred work of personal inner transformation is required to establish healthy connection with God. The goal of such transformation is not to become good enough to feel you have earned the love of God but rather to realize that a relationship with Him is not about you and your efforts but rather learning to accept the unspeakably profound love of the God who loves you just as you are and not as you think you should be. Paradoxically, healthy connection with God is only possible through a journey of personal healing that enables you to authentically accept your own humanness and begin to grow in healthy connection to your God-created self. As long as we are caught in a web of shame, hatred of self, and attempting to cope by hiding or denying the woundedness in ourselves we will never be truly open to and accepting of God’s love for us. Fear will always prevent us from knowing His love and living in the peace and freedom that only His love can provide.
The ability to experience healthy connection with God, self and others is, therefore, directly tied to your willingness to address your learning history of painful relational experiences in order to shift out of a primal survival-based view of life with all of its debilitating symptoms and into the peace and freedom of safety within your own soul and between you and God.
Godly Christ-centered therapy for the resolution of your painful past as well as learning to regulate the false alarms of perceived danger in the present, are essential to experiencing safe, healthy connection. Without this work, you will continue to be directed by the survival brain’s well-intentioned but unhealthy misguided preoccupation with protecting you from further relational harm. Tragically you will continue to miss the life that Jesus died to give you.
Take a moment today and ask yourself: Is everything I do directed towards increasing healthy connection with God, myself, and others? If you discover the answer to be “no” in one or more areas, then take those areas of your life, give them to Jesus and ask Him to give you the grace to replace them with whatever produces more healthy connection.