How I relate is how I relate! Yes there are different levels of connection … from civility toward strangers to intimacy with my wife. Mates, children, friends, acquaintances … each has a different level of connection. But my capacity for communion ‘is what it is’ whether I am engaging people or God. Christ invites me into rich intimacy with Him. But do I have the capacity to enter and enjoy such a relationship? The answer hinges, in part, on my ability to trust (trust being ‘ground zero’ of intimacy).
I get a sense of my ability to trust by looking at the ‘attachment pattern’ in which I habitually operate. Do I trust myself but not others (an ‘avoidant’ attachment pattern)? Do I trust others but not myself (an ‘ambivalent’ attachment pattern)? Do I have a hard time trusting myself or others (a ‘scattered’ attachment pattern)? Any of these general patterns limit my ability for intimacy. I have to be able to trust another to be vulnerable. I have to be able to trust myself to have something to give another.
Thankfully, the Gospel is not only an invitation to intimacy with the Triune God but also a means by which God graciously nurtures a level of trust that makes the invitation a reality. Our sin nature, family of origin, and life’s difficulties (e.g. being betrayed) can leave our ‘trust’ level low or one-sided (e.g. “I trust me but not you”). But over time, the Gospel of grace ministered through a loving community changes that. God’s unconditional love toward us in Christ and the nurturing of a grace-based church will slowly shift an avoidant or ambivalent or scattered way of attaching to one that is stable, solid, and life-giving.
How I relate is how I relate. I may feel I have a deep relationship with God. But if I cannot sustain a deep level of intimacy with another human being I need to ask some hard questions of myself (“If we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen?” – 1 John 4:20). I may find an attachment pattern deep within my soul that keeps me from truly experiencing Christ’s presence.
“Father, Son, and Spirit, do a work of grace in my life so that I, from the core of my being, trust you and trust myself to you. Amen”