Blog Archive

Here are some final thoughts about how our souls become attached to what they should be detached from. How does Christ enable us to remain attached to, or in an abiding relationship with, him? The ideas of being ‘aroused’ and ‘awakened’ are key for us to consider.

The Bible’s use of ‘arousal’ mostly refers to sexual arousal, meaning that the body’s sexual sensitivities are stirred. But our souls and emotions can also be ‘aroused’: stirred, moved, touched.

Being aroused from sleeping seems to describe the brief time between slumber and being fully awake. “She was aroused from her deep sleep and woke up,” for example. I wonder if this is a way for us to also consider how our emotions and thoughts can be stirred in a direction that then leads us to be ‘awakened’ towards acting upon those emotions and thoughts. We can either acti upon them in either a Christ-ward direction, abiding in him and his Word, or in a selfish and sin-ward direction.

Psalm 34:8 says to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (ESV). Galatians 5:16 instructs us to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Both of these verses speak to the issue of what and who will arouse or awaken you. What do the taste buds of your heart hunger for? Seek to attach to? The promise of Galatians 5:16 is that we will not gratify our sinful desires as we walk in the Spirit, which is another way to describe what it means to abide in Jesus: being filled with and directed by his Spirit. Those sinful desires come from our sinful hearts being aroused and awakened to worldly things rather than the Lord. Sinful cravings can be for things like:

  • physical or emotional pleasure at any cost
  • escape from emotional pain at all costs
  • fearful avoidance of any circumstance or encounter that might lead me to feel rejected
  • being number one and made much of by those in my life

To be aroused by, awakened by, and attached to holiness and the things of the Lord isn’t a series of steps per se; rather, it is a radical relational reorientation towards a person: Jesus.

What do you think about the idea of attachment vs. abiding?

Updated 5.11.2017

Let’s consider some more thoughts on what God’s Word would have to say to us about ‘holy attachments.’

Part I highlighted John 15 as a key passage for understanding God’s design for our attachments or ‘connections’ with people. Jesus was in his last earthly hours with the faithful eleven disciples. There had been talk of him leaving, of troubles, sorrows, death. In effect, chapter 15 describes for the believer what life in Jesus looks like.

Life in Jesus is more than coming to the temple. Life in Jesus is not merely following rules. Life in Jesus isn’t about us down here and him up in heaven. Life in Jesus is exactly that: in him. He carefully helps us to understand this with the analogy of a vine and branches, of fruit being born through the branches as they abide in their source of life, the Vine—Jesus.

The theory of abiding is so much richer and more hopeful than attachment theory! When I attach to something or someone, I’m stuck to it, clinging, grasping, holding. The picture Jesus draws for us in John 15 is one of “oneness” and shared life. We experience this oneness with Jesus through faith, through his Word abiding in us, and believing in him. It’s a lifestyle of increasing, loving obedience.

None of us, however, experiences this oneness with Jesus without being tempted to abide in something or someone else. Relational habits and sexual habits that have been a home for us, and to which we’ve become attached, can and must be dismantled by the vine dresser! This is Father God.

Part III will discuss how awakenings and arousings fit into the picture. We’ll unpack this into specific scenarios of relational and sexual attachments that are anything but safe.

Updated 5.11.2017

What wakes you up in the morning? An alarm? The aroma of freshly brewed coffee? The cry of a child? Habitual body clock? And when you wake up, what rouses you to actually get out of bed…to move into the day: a sense of responsibility? Desire? The need to…um…use the bathroom? Time with the Lord through Bible reading, reflection, and prayer?

There are lots of things that wake our bodies up and lots of other things that then move us from our just-wakened state into an aroused or “active” responsiveness. I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on how, in similar ways, our souls and affections are awakened, aroused, and then move into ‘attachment’.

We all experience some level of attachment to behaviors, people, relational dynamics, and emotional patterns. Habits form, and sometimes these habits are the fruit of attachments that are not healthy, not holy. Unholy, habitual patterns are called besetting sins in the Bible and patterns don’t “just happen.” They form over time as we are awakened and aroused somehow, in some way, and take little steps towards these unthealthy patterns.

Attachment Theory in biblical categories is something I’ve been delving into in recent months. I’ve been spurred on by my own heart’s bent towards attaching to certain emotional dynamics in relationships and by hearing the stories of many women. I minister to women who wrestle in some way on the spectrum of female same-sex attraction, from emotionally enmeshed relationships to sexualized relationships as a lifestyle. A key concept in our counseling is understanding attachment theory.

In a sentence or two, attachment theory acknowledges the impact that healthy or unhealthy emotional bonding with our primary caregivers impacts the way we navigate our emotional bonding with other people. This bonding, or attachment, can be expressed in ways that are holy, Jesus-centric, and boundaried. Or our attachments to people can be enslaving, fueled by idolatry and self-protection.

Scripture thankfully has much to say about holy attachments that go much deeper and wider than how we regulate our emotions in relationships. True to form, Jesus our Savior and Restorer of all things broken thought that holy attachment was so important for his followers to understand that he spent a good chunk of time teaching about it in his last hours with them. Check out John 15; we’ll delve into the passage more on Part II.

Updated 5.11.2017

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food” (Isaiah 55:1-2, ESV).

Rich “food,” or “fare,” should be capitalized here, as this fare, this banquet table is Jesus! When we have the taste buds of our hearts re-oriented and set on what is true, on what is sweet and good, we are led to Jesus, the table in the presence of enemies (Psalm 23:5). Jesus comes to us in our disordered desires and confused understandings and gives us himself.

We at Harvest USA have the amazing opportunity to enter into conversations with people week after week and to experience Jesus bringing peace where turmoil has been reigning. He reigns in thirsty hearts who come to him in the midst of deserts, of unholy attachments and behaviors that have left them unsatisfied and experiencing a “continual lust for more” (Ephesians 4:19, NIV).

This Christmas season, you may be invited to many types of tables…to snack, graze, feast. If sexual sin, emotional idolatry, addictive and life-dominating menus are what you’ve been ordering from, Jesus invites you to come to him to delight in the richest of fare. There is hope for you to taste and see and know that he is good!

Updated 5.11.2017

So let’s continue on with some more thoughts on people and food addictions. What are we to do if we are compulsive eaters? If we run constantly to food, snacks, bingeing on Boston creme-filled donuts, potato chips, or super chunk peanut butter chocolate ice cream, or whatever foods are most irresistible to you?

Well, first of all, we need to realize that what we’re hungering for really isn’t those items. Those goodies do taste good, and they can be enjoyed in a way that doesn’t numb but delights you…but only if you know what your heart is really hungering for.

Psalm 34: 8 says that we are to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (ESV); we are blessed when we take refuge in him. We might also say we are blessed when we feast upon him through relationship with Jesus, through prayer, through trusting and obeying him, through surrendering our lives. Having him be my banquet table allows me to enjoy and delight in the gifts that are presented to me.

This is so similar to people addiction or the ‘worship’ of people. A few posts ago, I wrote about how women (and men too) can be enthralled with each other, or seek to ‘feast’ upon each other through emotional connecting, nurture, affection, etc. This fixation really isn’t about a certain woman or person or people in general. Like food, it’s about our souls seeking what they were created for: satisfaction. But true satisfaction can only be found through the only One who fills us, the Bread of Life, Jesus. This is great news for us and gives us so much hope, even if we are people or food addicts!

What things or people are you seeking to find satisfaction in, apart from Jesus? How have you tasted and seen that the Lord is good, even more than your ‘addictions’ and temporary satisfactions?

Updated 5.12.2017

Someone once asked a mentor of mine, “Do you think you can be addicted to a relationship?” Beth responded immediately: “Yes!”

And it’s true. The dynamics that we experience in certain relationships can become habitually destructive when they turn into a perceived need in our lives.The feelings of comfort, security, value, and acceptance are among the top nutrients that feed and nurture a co-idolatrous relationship. Those things are evil in and of themselves! But when they become the reason we are relating to someone, a people addiction could be at work.

And in my own journey of seeking to run to Jesus from my people idolatry, I’ve come to see how similar people addiction is to food addiction. With this post, I’ll present some initial thoughts, and then I’ll follow up with more ponderings on how cravings for food and for people are more alike than different!

  • People, or relationships, and food are good gifts from God. (James 1:17)
  • We can’t just give up people or food; we are called to live in community and, well, we need food to survive! Romans 12:9-10 speaks to our call to be involved in relationships.
  • Both can become a ‘feel good’ substitute for Jesus, a way to soothe heart pain.
  • By God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, we must learn to live in holy moderation of these good gifts, not clinging to the created thing in a way that only the Creator is worthy of.
Updated 5.12.2017

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