Early Attachment Bonds and Security in God

We were created by God to crave attachment and caring from our parents the moment we enter the world. When you have suffered from childhood abuse and neglect, the results can be profound and long lasting.

In fact, the ACE study (Adverse Childhood Experiences) found that  as the number of adverse childhood experiences increase, the negative impact on the physical and mental health of an individual also increase. If you have suffered childhood abuse or neglect, you have an increased risk of coronary and pulmonary disease, in addition to other health related issues, such as arthritis and the need for hip or knee replacements later in life. Further, you are more prone to experience mental health issues such as depression, alcoholism and addictions.

For more information about this study you can visit the CDC at: ACE Study: Violence Prevention

In addition to the issues addressed in this study, individuals who experience the absence of consistent and loving care-giving as a child can form dysfunctional attachment patterns. Dysfunctional styles of attachment don’t disappear when we mature. The dysfunctional patterns that we learn as children greatly impact our ability to relate and form secure attachments as adults. In fact, dysfunctional attachment patterns are often generational if these issues are left unaddressed.

To further complicate the issue, our experiences with our family of origin can profoundly impact our view of God and our security in Him. Often, if an individual has parents that are punitive, he or she will tend to view God as punitive. Although we may be able to recite scripture that assures us that we are loved, accepted and important to God, the journey from the head to the heart can be a difficult one to make.

In the world of secular psychology, therapist will sometimes use a treatment model known as “Ideal Parent Figure” to help treat individuals who are suffering from attachment dysfunctions. The belief is that when you have developed a good internal model of how secure attachments interact, your symptoms will dissipate. As Christians, we have the “Ideal” Father in God. As we correct our misconceptions about the character of God and his love for us, he becomes more approachable and our attachment to our Father becomes more secure. We are more able to hear from Him and be led by the Spirit rather than the wounded parts of our flesh.