Friday, June 16, 2017

Referencing to God

I love the word “referencing”. It is what children do constantly when their attachment light is working properly.[1] They keep looking up from their play to see if we see them because they want to know they are important. It is built into us, that need to feel like little children who are under the watch care of parents who are thinking of us way beyond what children can know. As children, all we want to see is that, whenever we reference to our parents or caregivers, we see them noticing us and what we are doing.

I think it is fair to say that, when people are not referencing it is because their attachment light is broken, and they have given up checking to see if anyone is noticing them since their early experiences of referencing consistently showed parents who did not see them or attach to them. Solution: turn the attachment light off and quit referencing. Problem solved.

On the other hand, those children who are constantly referencing in an insecure and desperate way, with their attachment light always on, are doing so for the same reason, that early childhood experiences of referencing showed them that the adults in their lives didn’t see them, and so they keep their attachment light on constantly in the hope that, should anyone finally show them any interest, they won’t miss it.

What became clear to me this morning, at least in a deeper way, is that the Bible is the expression of a Father who is working to get his attachment-lights-are-broken children to notice him so we will begin referencing to him first instead of giving that first place to anyone or anything else. This would then fill us with the satisfaction of the security and love in relationships that we not only long for, but that Father himself put into us as part of making us like him.[2]

When I consider it like that, that the Bible is a Father’s initiation of attachment and dialogue between him and his children, and that his children are either attachment-light-always-off and simply cannot see that he is watching over us as no parent has ever done, or they are attachment-light-always-on towards people because they cannot conceive that, if people have never wanted to attach to them, why would a holy God desire to do so, I then see this element of the Father/parent who has a world of love for his children that the children do not know about, and in their immaturity cannot know about without him showing it, and so he constantly speaks of it, and interrupts our lives in order to get our attention. He has to!

This really brought out that our role as parents and caregivers is one in which we know so much more than the children, but the children are immature and imagine that the world is all about them and they have their whole world figured out even better than any adults in their lives. So, because the adults know the big picture, it is the adults who do the work of attaching to the children, and the children then blossom under the loving care of adults who do for them what they can’t even imagine that they need.

I think of children I have met who are so broken in their attachments, or so defiant in their self-interest, and adults have given them attachment relationship that they never asked for, and did not know they need. I have consistently seen these children feel so good about this adult-initiated attachment that they begin referencing to their care-givers because they now want our attention on them, at least when they are hurt, or doing something really special and fun and want to know that we see them.

All that to say that when I read the verses I have been pondering in Jeremiah 31[3] as the expression of a Father who knows everything and is constantly seeking attachment with us so we will reference to him first instead of anyone or anything else, I find that it is so much bigger than us that it is our ultimate safety. If we would only stop idolizing the people and things of life, and receive what is initiated by God, we would find our hearts coming home to what we have really wanted all along but could not know because our childish immaturity couldn’t see that far around us.

I am reminded of God’s initiating invitation: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”[4] That isn’t just a statement out of the air that tells us something that is true. It is a Father initiating attachment to his children who do not know this, and so he keeps expressing to us what we can’t know, that if we would only delight ourselves in him instead of everything else besides him, we would then experience the satisfaction of our deepest desires and longings.

So, when God speaks through Jeremiah to tell his people that they are his “dear son”, his “darling child”, the one his heart yearns for,[5] the one he has loved “with an everlasting love”,[6] it is all a Father’s initiation of things his beloved child cannot know (hence the child’s constant attachment to idols), and so the Father publishes this declaration in signposts and advertisements and billboards all around his children, calling them to what HE knows is best for us.

Just this week one of our daycare children was playing in the backyard and we noticed that she was constantly referencing to us with the biggest grin on her face that we have seen on her. It was so free, and spontaneous, and real, that it simply stood out that she was telling us how safe, and secure, and loved, we have made her feel. Lately she has been constantly expressing her love for us in words, and coming for hugs, and it is not because she has matured so much that she has decided for herself that she is going to be this world-conscious person who just loves everyone around her. Rather, it is a child who has responded to things we have initiated with her so far beyond her knowledge of how adult care-givers consider the care of children, and she is simply expressing the fruit of our initiation of love for her.

The lesson seems to be that when we keep our eyes on the positive things Father is doing to attach to us, and we allow our hearts to read his word and watch for his work like children who are allowing our attachment lights to reference to him because we are feeling the hope of his everlasting love towards us, we will then discover even more of the satisfaction that is ours because Father has orchestrated our return to him for the fullest experience of the desires of our hearts.

Which reminds me of another expression Jesus initiated in his attachment to us in order to draw us to attach to him as branches abiding in the vine. He concluded his loving expression of desire for this kind of relationship with us by saying, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”[7]

Today it is really standing out that the whole Bible is God’s, “these things I have spoken to you,” the initiation of a Father attaching to his children, but with that “that”, or “so that” we may experience the life he is giving us and respond with constant attachment to him. Something like, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”[8] When Jesus initiates his life in us, we then attach to him as sheep who follow their shepherd wherever he leads simply because the voice of strangers has lost all its appeal. We have found him for whom our heart has longed. Or, should I say, we have been found by him for whom our heart has longed.

© 2017 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] I have come to love the term “attachment light” as well, thanks to Jim Wilder of the Life Model group. It is a metaphor to illustrate how our God-given desire for attachment to God and people (fellowship, hearts knit together in love, one heart and mind, unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, etc) seeks to show its love to those who are sharing that love. A healthy attachment light turns on in relation to attachment possibilities with others. When our attachment light is broken because of repeated rejection of our attempts to attach to others (often perceiving the same from God), some people turn their attachment light off so that they don’t continuously hurt themselves with further experiences of rejection, while others keep their attachment light permanently on in the hope-springs-eternal belief that one day they will find somebody desiring attachment and they can’t bear the thought of missing that once-in-a-lifetime experience by leaving their attachment light off. Again, this is a metaphor, illustration, perhaps even a parable, but it has done wonders to help me understand myself, and what I see in others.
[2] It is absolutely necessary to our understanding of who we are as human beings, and why broken relationships affect us so painfully, that we appreciate how God created us in HIS image, the image of the Triune God who is in constant love-relationship with one another (Genesis 1:26-27). Our greatest fulfillment in joy is when we are attached to both God and his children at the same time. However, this attaching is full of so many heart-breaking stories of disappointment with God and his church that many people live with the hopelessness and attach to whatever people or things gives them a pseudo-experience of some kind of good feelings. Even in churches where everyone appears to get along for the common good of the institution, people are often attached to the role they play, or the people who form their core group, or their long history of being good people, rather than the heavenly Father they would follow through anything no matter the cost.
[3] As I have been praying through Mark 1:1-8 in its introduction to the gospel, there was a surprising connection to Jeremiah 31:1-40, revolving around God referring to his people as “my dear son”, and, “my darling child” (vs 20). This was one of the signposts that got my attention on the way God has initiated everything in our lives, even before he began creation, and this is to be a huge ministry to us who long for a Father who would be just like that.
[4] Psalm 37:4
[5] Jeremiah 31:20
[6] Jeremiah 31:3
[7] John 15:11 (context: John 15:1-11)
[8] John 10:10

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