As a young person I lived in Chicago, where I worked with a city ministry. Determined to live the gospel, sharing the good news with the poor and disenfranchised, I sought out and visited a number of people who lived in the shadier parts of town, shocking some of my friends with what they perceived as “guts” and courage. But I didn’t feel any fear at all. Now, I probably should have taken someone else with me, but then I wasn’t alone, really. Angels walked with me. I could feel their presence.
The field of psychology called “attachment theory” studies how different styles of attachment formed in childhood affect the way we think, feel, and behave. The ideal put forth by attachment theorists is that a secure attachment to a parent figure is ideal, and sets the child up neurologically and psychologically for self-regulation in adulthood. But secure attachment isn’t clinging—that’s anxious attachment. Secure attachment means the child connects with mommy, then ventures out into the world of play and discovery. The more the child believes mommy will be there when they want to reconnect, the more they face strange, new things with resiliency.
Religious psychologists have discovered that attachment to God works the same way. When people feel secure in God, they can face the uncertainties of life with more vigor. In the words of one researcher, attachment to God is “inversely associated with distress.” The more connected we feel to the Almighty, the mightier will be our courage to face whatever He brings across our path.
Breath in courage, breathe out fear.
Think of the tenderest earthly ties you’ve formed in your lifetime. Perhaps parents, grandparents, a caring adult, or friends. Who, if anyone, has been a “secure bond” for you? Thank God out loud for them right now.
And if you can truly think of no one—which does happen—thank God that He is your secure base, your hiding place from trouble, your shield from attack, and that as you hope in His Word you will come to know Him more fully.
Dear Hiding Place and Shield, we all need someone to lean on. Leaning fully on any human will bring us disappointment. But leaning on You, Lord, we will find courage to face the world, and to go anywhere you lead. Lead us today to make a difference, to shine a light in darkness, to provide warmth in the cold of a dying world. In Jesus’ name, amen.
“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.” Psalm 119:114