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Attachments 15

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Attachments 15

(Tonight we continue wit the series on Attachments:  Why You Love, Feel, and Act The Way You Do.  If you have not been here, we have moved through the three insecure attachment styles and begun to work on the secure attachment style.  You can follow along with me on page 138 of the Attachments book.)

Characteristics of the Secure Self

“So far we’ve discussed how sensitive parenting promotes secure attachment and how secure attachment leads to emotionally healthier children.  Now we’d like to describe to you some of the important characteristics of that fortunate child who’s reared by sensitive parents to become the secure self.

Emotional Strength

People with emotional strength aren’t stonefaced stoics who display little or no emotion, as you might think.  They’re down-to-earth people, probably like you, who feel emotions pretty deeply.  The thing that distinguishes them is that they’re not afraid of emotions, neither their own or others’.  They don’t consider negative feelings like anger, sadness, or even fear as a sign of weakness or imbalance.  Emotions, for them, are seen as indicators that they’re people in touch with themselves and the world around them.”[1]  Remember my metaphor of feelings being indicators on the dashboard of life.  They tell you when something is wrong in your life.  Well, this is the same concept, except they also tell you when you are in touch with yourself and the world around you.  If your car is in touch with itself, the indicators on the dashboard will alert you to any negative changes in your major systems.  Well, newer cars also have indicators that are in touch with other things like the weather.  They display the temperature outside the car.  Hence, the car is in touch with itself and things outside of itself.  Well, emotions keep us in touch with our own personal systems, as well as things that may be happening in the world of others.

       “Because they accept their feelings, secure people—more often than not—face life head-on.  They accept challenges and take necessary risks.  They stand up for what they believe in with passion and fervor, and they invest in others because they’re not haunted by the fear of loss.”[2]

A Willingness to Seek and Accept Comfort, Especially in Times of Trouble

“We pointed out earlier that God programmed us to seek connection with and comfort from others.  Those who study infant behavior call this implicit relational knowing.  Secure attachment is the only extension of our natural selves.  Persons with secure attachment styles automatically seek their attachment figures when distressed, just as God programmed us to seek Him.  Long before modern researchers identified this characteristic, John Calvin described it when he wrote, “a sense of deity is inscribed on every heart.’

       Do you seek comfort from others when you’re distressed?  Or do you turn inward and look only to yourself for comfort?  Or do you look to others for comfort, but with a level of intensity that overwhelms those trying to provide you with support?  Security is both seeking and finding comfort in the ones you love.

       Turning to God in prayer is a powerful sign of security-seeking behavior.  In fact, prayer, what Richard Foster calls ‘simple prayer,’ is turning to God for comfort even in the little situations of life.  You don’t have to wait for calamity to strike.  Turning to God for even minor requests—that the kids have a good day, that your spouse makes it home safely, that you get today’s jobs done—are all reflections of this principle.”[3]

Courage for Love and Intimacy

Best described in 1 Corinthians 13, known as the Bible’s ‘love chapter,’ love is a total commitment to another person.  And it’s work!  Intimacy requires tremendous trust and courage.  Our culture, of course, paints a different picture:  Love is easy, intimacy reaches fulfillment on the second date, and both are effortless.  But we agree with M. Scott Peck, who says that anytime you see love without work, you don’t have love.  Instead, you’re looking at infatuation in the eye.  And infatuation is primarily a drug-induced state of elation produced by body chemicals called endorphins.  When these drugs wear off, and they always do, if the relationship lasts, you’re left with the real work of love and intimacy.”[4]

       We covered the false faces of love years back in the series by Craig Massey, of Moody Bible Institute, entitled “Adventures In Family Living.”  When it comes to marital love, there are false faces.  As a matter of fact, knowing whether you are “in love,” or not, can be very hard to determine, and being “in love” is not as important as growing in love.  Craig Massey talks about the “Five False Faces” of love:

1.   Infatuation.

2.   Romance (adult infatuation).

3.   Affection.

4.   Friendship, and

5.   Passion.

(If “falling in love” is not the same as true love, what is true love?)

“Falling in love” may describe some feelings that lovers experience intensely at the beginning and from time to time as the relationship matures, but long-term relationships cannot be built upon “falling in love” alone.  True love is agape love.

       Craig Massey said that

Love is the gift of one’s self to his mate for his mate’s enjoyment, with no strings attached, and giving until that giving becomes a satisfying sharing.

Now, that’s work!!!

       “Secure people are willing to take risks to love someone.”/[5]/  They have learned this overtime and have to come to experience a sense of peace in those relationships.

       “The belief that attachment figures are nearby and accessible provides secure folks with an internal optimism.  No matter what’s coming, they’re not going to face it alone.  And they believe that together, they can face anything.  That kind of attitude motivates secure people to face their lives boldly and with confidence.  Bowlby puts it this way:

An individual who has been fortunate in having grown up in an ordinary good home with ordinarily affectionate parents has always known people from who he can seek support, comfort, and protection, and where they are to be found.  So deeply established are his expectations and so repeatedly have they been confirmed that, as an adult, he finds it difficult to imagine any other kind of world.  This gives him an almost unconscious assurance that, whenever and wherever he might be in difficulty, there are always trustworthy figures available who will come to his aid.  He will therefore approach the world with confidence and, when faced with potentially alarming situations, is likely to tackle them effectively or to seek help in doing so.”[6]

Secure people realize there’s safety in other people, and they manifest a sense of trust and look to others for help when needed.  Ecclesiates 4:9, says, ‘Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor’ (nkjv).  Pessimistic people, on the other hand, have grown to expect their projects to crumble before their eyes.  They’re almost afraid to be happy when life goes well, because if they are, something bad is sure to happen.  We call this ‘happy-phobia.’  If you are happy-phobic, you’ve probably never felt comfortable trusting or relying on anyone to come through for you in difficult times.

Secure people also know the truth of Ecclesiasties 7:14:  ‘When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider:  God has made the one as well as the other.’  When parents and significant others live out this belief with us, what an incredible picture of God we get!

Optimistic people acknowledge that life is a thorny proposition and that the bumps in the road can be quite jarring.  But optimism allows them to believe no bump is so bone-rattling it can’t be overcome, and no thorn is so sharp it can’t be dulled and dealt with.  Eventually life will work out.  For secure, optimistic people, Romans 8:28 is alive, well, and fulling operative:  ‘In all things God works for the good of those who love Him.’  That doesn’t mean they never hurt.  But their optimism allows secure people to bounce back from adversity.   They know God has a plan for their lives, and they trust Him that the suffering they’er enduring today is merely preparation for triumph tomorrow.  They believe every misstep is ultimately for their benefit.”[7]

Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB-U), “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’”

       “Optimism is also realistic.  Pain exists, and pain hurts, and pain can slow down even secure, optimistic people.  It may even stop them for a while.  But over time, pain eases a bit, and secure people see that as their cue to get up and get going again.  After all, new life is waiting just around the next corner.”[8]

       We see in Paul’s life both an optimism and a need for people.

2 Timothy 1:12 (NASB-U), “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”

2 Timothy 4:9 (NASB-U), “Make every effort to come to me soon.”

I want you to be with me…I need you.

Responsible for Themselves

“Secure people feel totally responsible for who they are, for their lives, and for making the decisions that affect it.  Psychologists call this an internal locus of control.  While secure people can’t keep all bad situations from occurring to them—illness, loss of loved ones, and so forth—they can determine how they react to those events, and they take full responsibility for those reactions.

       They generally don’t feel like victims, even when they are.  When beset by a problem not of their making, they usually assess the situation honestly and relatively dispassionately, and then set about to change their circumstances.  Which means they engage in active problem solving, and when at first they don’t succeed, they keep trying to solve the problem longer than insecure people do.  And if they discover they can’t improve things, they simply decide to cope.  Generally, secure people concern themselves with how they interpret their suffering—they find meaning in their pain.

       Viktor Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist held in a German concentration camp during World War II.  He found that those who were able to survive, both physically and psychologically, those who did not give up hope, those who persisted and even thrived in their captivity, were those who were able to find meaning in their suffering.  He developed a whole form of psychotherapy based on the notion that people can find meaning even in the bleakest of circumstances.

       The New Testament Christians were like this.  They were severely persecuted because they were followers of Christ.  But when they were beaten and battered for their beliefs, they rejoiced for the opportunity to serve God and further their purposes.  They lived ‘top-down,’ believing that God is in control and heaven is sure.”[9]

       African-American people were like that during the Martin Luther King, Jr. days of sit-ins and peaceful demonstrations.

       “In contrast, those with an external locus of control generally feel life just happens to them and they have little control over it, including the way they feel when it happens and how they behave afterward.  As you can easily imagine, when faced with trouble, those with this mind-set will expend little, if any, emergy in problem-solving efforts.  And when they do try to solve their problem, if at first they don’t succeed, it’s time for a latte.  They give up more easily.  They believe their feelings and thoughts are outside their control.  If they should fall in love with bad persons, well, they’ll just have to be with them.  This mind-set allows them to take little responsibility for managing their lives.  When they get themselves into trouble, they blame others, including God:  ‘If God didn’t want me to be with that person, why did He have me fall in love with him [or her]?’”[10]


“Many define courage as a lack of fear.  We consider the lack of fear as a sign of anything but courage.  Indeed, we see fearlessness as the hallmark of someone who lacks good sense!

       Fear informs us of what is dangerous or significant.  Courage is to act in the face of fear when we determine that action is needed….  Courage is daring to do right in the face of other emotions that would have you do less than right, or down-right wrong.”[11]

The Secure Attachment Style:

An Emotional Immune System

People who have healthy immune systems still get sick.  They get colds, flu, sinus infections, and just about everything else, but they get sick less often and their illnesses aren’t as severe as those with poor immune systems.  And they get better faster.

       In the same way, people with secure attachment styles get sad, angry, anxious, and just about anything else you can name, but they are more resilient.  Not as much upsets them, and when they do get upset, they’re not as severely upset as insecure people.  Plus, the upset calms more rapidly.  They get back to being their old selves more quickly.  In fact, as we have already mentioned, they generally grow from their pain.  It takes an awful lot to knock them off their feet.  And even then, they eventually get back up and are usually much stronger for having endured the difficulty.

       In an interesting way, God has made us so that when we manage our stress levels well, our bodies’ immune systems are strengthened.  Health begets health.  And secure attachment sets the foundation for health--spiritual, emotional, and even physical health.

       Here’s great news:  You can develop a secure attachment style, no matter which style is governing your relationships now.  Your life—your past—while powerful and influential, doesn’t have to command your tomorrows.  You can develop what researchers call an ‘earned, secure base’ for building and rebuilding your relationships.”[12]  There is hope and help coming!!!

Homework:    Attachments (pages 147-157).

In the meantime, hear the Word of God to you:

Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB-U), “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’”

(Now is the Day of Salvation!  Come to Jesus, Now!)


Call to Discipleship


[1] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 139.

[2] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 139.

[3] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, pp. 139-140.

[4] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 140.

[5] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 140.

[6] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, pp. 140-141.

[7] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 141.

[8] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 142.

[9] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, pp. 142-143.

[10] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 143.

[11] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 143.

[12] Tim Clinton & Gary Sibcy, Attachments, Integrity Publishers, Brentwood, Tennessee, 2002, p. 142.

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