The C.A.R.E. Community Newsletter
Since March 2005, the members of the C.A.R.E. Community have shared from their hearts in the quarterly C.A.R.E. Community Newsletter. Regularly featured articles include testimonies from survivors, personal Bible studies, and community Bible studies. There are articles about our community events, including community outreach, Manna Congregation events, and feast celebrations. We also include prayer requests from the community members.
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Guest Corner: Loving Through Attachment Pain
This is an attempt to put some of my thoughts on paper. I feel I’ve learned so much, and still have so much to learn. I can see glimpses of Jesus, loving and reaching out to others through me. We have such an opportunity to be there for each other, and to help with our friendship and our love, to reach out and to show the joy that is in our hearts just for seeing them.
You see, many people don’t know. They don’t know that we love them or that we even like them. Over time, though, we can show them. This will make a difference. They may have had a lifetime of hurt. They may feel that if anyone ever learned what they are really like, they would surely be rejected. So they hide. They don’t really want to. But it seems the safest way to avoid being hurt further. Could it be that the hiding is keeping them locked away, keeping them from entering into a relationship that could bring healing? The cost might be too great. So they stay at arm’s length and act as they think we would want them to act, hoping we will like them. If they only knew that if they could show us their true hearts, we would be full of joy.
Instead they may withdraw in fear, say mean things or tell us to go. But do they really mean it? No! They are hoping we will stay. They just don’t know how to say it. If we could only understand. If we stand firm and love, we could be the Lord’s vessel of healing. He could show that not all people are bad. Not all people want to hurt. Some are different. Some are safe. Some can help. They don’t really want us to go. They just don’t know any other way. What would it cost us to help? Would you be willing? Would you venture in? Would you love them through their pain?
I am on this wonderful and difficult path with my beloved. He is most assuredly worth it. I would do anything to love him…through the ups and downs…and to help him see that he is my friend and that he can trust me. Sometimes it is hard and it can be painful. But most times it brings me joy. You see, he is my friend. He doesn’t quite believe it yet, but he is lovely. I have other friends too, who need a little help. So I love them. They are worth it.
I had a very different life. I was loved and I nurtured and received good things. I thought everyone did. And then the Lord began to open my eyes. I saw a lot of hurting people, people who didn’t know how to be themselves, people who didn’t know how to trust. And Jesus showed me I could be a friend. It is not too much to ask. For I know how because I was blessed.
Maybe I can help you to understand. It means sharing a little of our journey. You may not have a clue what attachment pain is. I certainly didn’t. I married at 35 and had been living with and in love with my husband for quite a few years. But sometimes I just didn’t understand him. It was more than just the usual “women are from Venus and men are from Mars” kind of thing. Sometimes it seemed like we were bonded and all was well and then other times I felt a great distance. What was going on? Why would he withdraw from me? I will give some examples to illustrate. (I have his permission to share this in hopes that it might help others. I am speaking of a marriage but I think it applies to other relationships as well.)
First of all, we knew he had a rough childhood and that there wasn’t a lot of love and affirmation. So there was a deep sense of feeling unloved and not cared for. Our relationship seemed different though. We were close and we were good to each other. But then there were times when he would say he just couldn’t believe that I loved him. This was not after any kind of upset and I couldn’t understand it. I loved him so much I couldn’t see straight. Wasn’t I showing it? What could I have done to make him think that I didn’t love him? What more could I do to show my love?
Then there was the time we were at the State Fair together. This was usually a happy place for us to be. But he just didn’t seem to be enjoying himself and wouldn’t say what he wanted to see or to do. It wasn’t a very good day and that evening I asked what had been happening. He finally confided that he was afraid to tell me what he wanted to do for fear that I wouldn’t like him. I didn’t understand. I struggled with it and the fiery darts came to say that we didn’t have any intimacy in our marriage. If he couldn’t tell me that, what else wasn’t he telling me? Maybe our marriage was just a façade. Ouch! Thankfully I knew better than to listen to that. I knew we had intimacy in many ways and at many times, this just wasn’t one of them.
When normal life or marriage challenges would come up, my beloved’s response might be that our marriage was over, he might just as well get on the first plane home, we should separate, it wasn’t going to work out anyway so we might as well end it now... I found those kinds of reactions hurtful. I didn’t understand why he would give up so easily. Why would he just throw our marriage away? Didn’t I mean anything to him? What about our vows before the Lord? What about the promises we had made to each other? What about the Lord’s power and ability to bring us through difficult times? I’m sure you can see how this would lead to some sleepless nights.
I often thought of this kind of behavior as self sabotage. Trying to cut one’s losses before things got any worse. But why? It was painful to me because my normal way of relating to those close to me is to attach to them. I couldn’t understand giving up an attachment, and the very thought of it brought great pain. It was like a tearing in two. I wanted to stay together but felt he was pushing me away. It was so painful and I don’t know if we would have made it through if we had not learned about attachment pain.
We didn’t know anything about it until our first trip to CARE, Inc. for a week of intensive prayer sessions. Our prayer minister explained about different attachment styles the first morning. I found out that I have a healthy attachment style. I was bonded and I thought he was too. But it turns out he had never experienced a healthy attachment before and he didn’t know how to bond. It wasn’t his fault or his choice, he just didn’t know how to do it. This affected our relationship but also his relationship with the Lord.
Wow! That was huge. The technical term is a disorganized attachment if you want to learn more. It can be caused when an infant or young child has no choice but to bond with the one they fear. If they have no healthy options and no one safe to bond with, they will bond with those who are harming them. Imagine the kinds of difficulties that would cause when trying to bond with others. There might be fear, suspicion, dread, and all kinds of other things going on. Can you see how hard it would be to believe that someone else might like them and find them valuable?
During our intensive, we learned skills we could practice together that would help us to bond in healthy ways. I learned how helpful my kind eyes could be to him as I listen and he learned that it just might be okay to let me in. There were new options. We learned how to synchronize and about joy strength and building capacity. It has helped us a great deal. We have continued to grow closer and are more “attached” or bonded than we have ever been. We can now talk and share a lot more openly and we can both be more supportive to the other. He doesn’t have to stay stuck with a disorganized attachment for the rest of his life.
I am not saying that we are perfect at this. But we have come a long way and I am so grateful for the help and support we have received from CARE. I can’t help wondering how many friendships or marriages have ended because people didn’t know how to work through attachment problems. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Can you see yourself being willing to love and reach out to another with kindness and acceptance? People are damaged by people and need people to recover. I find that giving good in place of bad brings joy. Showing friends and loved ones I like them and want to be together, giving unconditional acceptance like the Lord gives me, showing how to be a friend: this is good stuff. This will help with recovery. We may not be capable of this kind of love on our own. But with the Lord’s help and a surrendered heart, all things are possible.
Disappointment with God Part 1
Why would a just God allow suffering to continue? Why doesn’t He intervene? Why did He let this happen to me? In a world where nothing seems fair or even good sometimes, these questions have plagued believers and non-believers alike. It is often used as a reason for unbelief. I cannot even pretend to answer them to the full satisfaction of any reader. However, there are a few answers that have brought me some comfort in trying to understand an infinite God. Many of these thoughts originated in Philip Yancey’s book, “Disappointment with God”. This book helped restore my belief in God during a crisis of faith. Yancey doesn’t pretend to have the answers either, but his thoughts helped point me back in the right direction. I have not attempted to distinguish my thoughts from his, but I have not quoted him directly in this article. This will be the first of a series of articles explaining what I have come to believe about disappointment with God.
Is it okay to be disappointed with God? Does feeling disappointment mean we disbelieve God’s perfection? I think most Christians believe that feeling disappointment is somehow sinful, especially when we feel it in relation to God. Maybe that is part of what’s behind our attempts to cover our pain and not let anyone know we are hurting. I had a revelation a few years ago that shattered this belief. There are multiple stories in the Old and New Testaments of people who ask these same questions. The Psalms cover the whole spectrum of emotion from joy to despair. “I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have You forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” Ps. 42:9 Whoever wrote this Psalm sounds despairing and deeply disappointed. He feels that God has forgotten him. His answer is to praise God anyway, with a stubborn refusal to believe God has forsaken him. “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God.” Ps. 42:11 But he does not indicate that his emotions have changed. Just that he refuses to believe God has changed. There is a difference between what we feel and what we believe. Expressing disappointment does not automatically mean we are sinning. Quite the opposite. Failure to express it results in lying to ourselves and others about how we really feel. Feeling disappointment with God does not equal unbelief in His character.
One of the most poignant examples of disappointment can be found in the gospels, in the story of the men walking on the road to Emmaus. Surely these men were feeling deep disappointment as they discussed what they thought Yeshua had come to do. Wasn’t He supposed to shatter their enemies and rule? God’s response to them is very important: Yeshua came and walked with them in their disappointment. He came alongside and synchronized! Then He proceeded to explain everything written about Him in the Old Testament. He reminded them that He had fulfilled what was written (even though they did not recognize Him yet!). He continued on with them to their destination and proceeded to break bread with them. They recognized Him as He broke the bread. There is much speculation about why it took so long for them to recognize Him, and what the significance is of Him breaking the bread. All of these explanations have valid points, but I think they recognized Him because when He lifted His arms, the sleeves of His robe fell back and they saw the scars on His wrists. It explained everything. Yeshua had not come yet to rule and reign, but to sacrifice Himself for their redemption. He didn’t chide them for their disappointment, just explained what He had truly come to do. His nonverbal explanation quieted their fears and disappointments.
But what about when there is no forthcoming explanation for the circumstances in our lives? I want to explore these thoughts further in my next article. God does not always give us an explanation, as most of us well know!