Secure connection with God and significant others are key ingredients in experiencing contentment, joy, physical and psychological health as well as emotional safety. Research in the area of neuroscience has demonstrated that we are hardwired for connection. Scripture further attests that we are designed to seek connection with God (Jer. 29:13). Since we are created by God, it makes sense that a solid relationship with Him is the beginning of healthy relationships with each other. Furthermore, recent studies in the area of attachment and marriage show that a mature relationship with God improves marital satisfaction and connection with your spouse. Interestingly, even if only one spouse experiences security in relationship with God the other spouse benefits. Even though our culture esteems independence, it is clear through Scripture and research that interdependence is crucial for living a meaningful life with purpose and joy. Maintaining a strong connection with God and significant others requires work, time and vulnerability but the benefits are undeniable!
In my own journey, secure attachment with God, my grandmother, my husband, my children and others has fostered my resilience in the face of significant trauma. Even though I was not raised in a Christian home, my beloved grandmother loved God and gave me my first Bible when I was five years old. She was my secure base and the one I would run to for love and support and it was this security that gave me the strength to endure the pain of my parents’ divorce when I was 7 years old. I saw and heard things that no child should experience. My mother quickly remarried and I found myself with two step-brothers and all the dynamics siblings bring. However, I grew to love my step-father and our connection was strong. He was an amazing aerobatic pilot who performed at air shows all across the country and around the world. Little did I know that I was going to face another devastating blow—he crashed his plane and died while performing in an air show overseas. Hearing the report of the crash on the evening news magnified my overwhelming sense of loss.
My mom and I were both reeling from our loss. She checked out emotionally, so I turned to a friend that brought me to church where I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Unfortunately, I fell away during my teen years, and at the age of sixteen my mother moved us from Bellingham, Washington to San Diego, California. It might as well have been the moon because of the societal differences between the two cities. Leaving behind my precious grandmother, my friends and everything that I had known was life changing. My mother was ill-equipped to raise a teenager and made choices that were detrimental for her life and mine. Forced to now raise myself and my mother alone, I became angry, bitter and rebellious. By God’s grace I was able to finish high school and get into my first choice of colleges. However, my world was rocked once more when my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer in summer of 1980 and died in November of that same year.
I moved to Northern California to restart my life where I met, fell in love with, and marriedmy husband, Alex. We were happy and times were good. However, after the birth of our two children, Brandon and Ashley, I felt a desire to rekindle my relationship with the Lord.
I joined a Christian mom’s group and began reading my Bible. Sadly, my world would soon be shattered. In the fall of 1991, we suffered the most significant loss any parent could ever face—the death of our precious Ashley. This tragedy brought unimaginable pain and I believed this was something that could never be repaired. Depression quickly overtook me, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t even pray. I had a house full of family and friends yet felt so alone. But on the third day, God’s amazing peace overwhelmed and covered me like a beautiful, warm, liquid blanket. His comforting Word sustained and healed our family and I was able to move beyond my circumstances in order to comfort others who were experiencing pain and loss (2 Cor. 1:4). This eventually led to my work as a Stephen Ministry leader and culminated in my pursuit and completion of a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.
Over the years, I have had many more opportunities to rely on God and loved ones for emotional safety and strength. This includes fighting an aggressive cancer on my face and journeying through the darkness of my mother’s slow decline and eventual death from Alzheimer’s disease. My secure attachment with God and others has not only fostered my resilience in the face of trauma, but has given me the strength and determination to pursue my life’s passion at the age of 55! This includes being a vehicle for healthy growth and change in people’s lives. Precious sisters, let me encourage you to pursue God with all of your heart and soul, and nurture close relationships so that you can boldly accomplish what He has called you to – no matter what your age, current skill level, education or other roadblocks that may appear to stand in your way – nothing is impossible with God!
Further Reading Suggestions from the Author
Clinton, T. & Straub J. (2010). God attachment: Why you believe, act, and feel the way you do about God. New York, NY: Howard Books
Knabb, J. (2014). A preliminary investigation of the relationship between religion and marital adjustment among Christian adults from a conservative denomination. Journal of Psychology & Christianity, 33 (3), pp. 263-276.
Johnson, S. (2008). Hold me tight: Seven conversations for a lifetime of love. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Mitzi Steele. I have been married for nearly 30 years to my best friend Alex. We have two amazing adult children, a beautiful new daughter-in-law and one child with the Lord. After hearing a call from the Lord five years ago, I pursued and completed a master’s degree from Bethel Seminary in Marriage and Family Therapy. I currently work in private practice as an MFT Intern #88087, employed and supervised by Jussi Light, MFT #39617 at New Growth Counseling in Carlsbad, California. My passion is to encourage and foster healing in people who are experiencing pain.