One evening a couple decided to go for a walk in the starlight night. After strolling through the countryside, they came upon a grassy knoll. This knoll overlooked the coast, and as they laid back, taking in the majestic scene of stargazing, something stirred in the distance. Yet, they were unawares.
This grassy knoll happened to be a church lawn & garden. The thing stirring in the distance was a priest, who had noticed the intruders from his bedroom window. The priest decides, this is a great time for a “prayer walk”. As the couple’s bodies are entangled, the priest approaches and says, “top of the morning”. Like our ancestors, Adam & Eve, the couple covered themselves. And, like God, the priest asks what’s this got to do with that, as He points to the cosmos above. Then, he walks off! (Story credit: Christopher West)
Said another way, what’s this – body – got to do with that, the that, for our purposes, is God.
For the follower of Jesus, the way of Jesus is an embodied spirituality. Meaning, have you seen the two Disney movies……Inside Out & Soul? Both, good movies, yet they give an incomplete picture of the human person. One emphasizes the emotion being house within the mind, not the entire person. Then, the other gives a vision of the afterlife where we are disembodied and in a ghost-like form that doesn’t account for the Biblical vision of an entire creation being restored and refurbished in all matter consistent with the material and immaterial world.
The first major movement of the Scripture’s storyline is to restore that attachment of love that was reordered. The mission of God is to offer redemption by untangling what has been twisted. The first of God’s major movements is to the entire person – at all three levels – mind, body, and soul. An earthly sign of a heavenly reality. A visible sign of an invisible truth.
What’s this got to do with that? Attaching to God can feel foreign, forced, or confusing. Thankfully, one of the many reasons that Jesus came to earth, and there are many, but one of the most compelling is that He came to show us what true humanity is. Sin left us in need of so much more than information, it left us longing for incarnation. We start there, because before we talk about attaching to God, we must begin with His pursuit and attaching to us. Only from there will our anxiety subside, our shame shattered, and our shut-down style can open us up to experience the embodied love of God in Jesus.
Attaching to God
From the book Attached to God by Mayfield, using attachment science (how we get and keep connection) we tend to fluctuate between three different attachment styles.
- Anxious | “I want to know God won’t abandon me, no matter what.” An unhealthy pursuit is clinging through performance or desperation.
- Shut-down | “To know God is present with me in all my emotions – even in sadness and worry.” An unhealthy pursuit is avoidance through tasks or head knowledge.
- Shame-filled | “To know that God likes me”. I get that through shame, self-punishment, or self-criticism.
Question……are you and I relating to God with an anxious, shut-down, or shame-filled attachment style right now? To quote Saint Augustine, God longs to give good things, but our hands are too full to receive them.
What does this have to do with that? Everything.
Jesus came embodied in love. He didn’t come in a disembodied state. Jesus as a groom, Jesus as a Savior, Jesus as a Redeemer, one full of grace and truth…..wants you. to delight in you. For you and I to direct the full weight of our desires/attachments towards His vision of what it means to be human. And, saying “no thanks” to that cocktail of sex, money and power prepares our sensibilities, finetunes our tastebuds, to the coming table where all our longings are fulfilled. What we do with our bodies tells a story.
Which attachment style or styles best describe you right now? And, what is His invitation to you, today, to align your life with His? Is it from anxious to Sabbath? From shutdown to writing your own lament. Or, from shame-filled to being held in compassion.
While growing up in Arlington Heights, IL, it wasn’t until the start of my senior year did I start to wonder if Jesus was worth considering. For me, it took the intellectual, communal, and personal components to come together to say – yes – to Him. I like to say He captured the restlessness of my soul and like a guitar restrung my heart with the cords of eternity and it hasn’t gone back since.
Shortly after coming to know Jesus as my greatest hope and reality, my father died. Since then, I’ve taken great comfort in Corrie Ten Boom’s words, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.”
Then, not long after that, a family member came out to me. For the first time this dimension of life – spirituality and sexuality – wasn’t an abstract concept, this was and is a person. After attending to them with grace and truth, an odd phenomenon kept happening to me, or has it been for something? Individuals would continually trust me with their questions, wounds, and curiosities about their sexuality. At this point, it’s climbed to 15+. From there, I’ve invested the better part of eight years being engaged with individuals and immersed in the dizzying array of literature on these areas of our personhood.
I’ve found Elizabeth Elliot’s words to have great bearing on our cultural moment: “Faith doesn’t eliminate questions, but faith knows where to take them.” Two prayers that have grounded and guided my life are: “I long to have faith and obedience like those I see in the Scriptures, and I long to preach the gospel to the nations.”
Those are my life’s aims. Among my love of books, reflection, and nurturing meaningful relationships, I enjoy good coffee, jazz music, golf, snowboarding, the movies, pizza (pepperoni), cooking, the mountains, and the beach as well as traveling.
I hold an MDiv from Denver Seminary, and I hope to gain more clarity on pursuing a PhD in the coming years.
I’m humbled and honored to join the WGA staff and contribute to the on-going space they are curating for every person, every story, and every beautiful and broken aspect of our human experience.
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