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Once you choose to team up with Christ, His bump-it-up-a-notch power can fuel your life ever upward. Let’s clear up a few misconceptions about how this works. To keep Christ’s influence strong in your life, you don’t need to pray or read your scriptures every day. You do not need to sit in a church building for two hours every Sunday. You don’t even need to go to the temple. To keep the presence of Him in your life, you need to do only one thing— strengthen your attachment to God.
All of the “standard activities” are standard because they are excellent ways (in fact, God prescribed ways) of connecting with God, but they only work if you approach them with that objective. Reading your scriptures to check off your 365-day reading chart is not going to get you anywhere; reading to more clearly hear God’s voice in your life will.
Building a relationship with God is similar to how you build relationships with other people. Fortunately for me, How Not to Have Any Serious Relationships with Anyone could have been my second major in college. What were my strategies? Be non-committal.
Don’t share your true feelings or thoughts with others; only say what you think they want you to say. Be inconsistent about when and how often you talk to people. Have endless amounts of FOMO (fear of missing out)—check your phone constantly when talking to someone else and always feel uneasy being with the same person or in the same place for too long.
Thanks to these serious skills, I had a slew of raving memories and first dates by the end of my sophomore year but nobody to come home to. I’m not just talking about romance. Even good friends were few and far between. I had failed to establish any strings of attachment between myself and other people. For reasons of simplicity, freedom, flexibility, and independence, I intentionally stayed detached from others, romantic or otherwise.
Marriage and family psychologists have repeatedly acknowledged that attachment is the essence of every relationship. Taking moments throughout a day to check in, connect, and concern yourself with another—be it a friend, parent, or spouse—makes or breaks the relationship. These “collecting rituals” ensure you have ample time to talk, listen, and get to know each other.
Creating a strong attachment to your Heavenly Parents is vital to your spiritual survival here on earth. The development of wild birds adds some insight into the importance of this relationship. Within hours after hatching, a duck will imprint on the first moving object it sees (usually the mom or dad). Imprinting means that his brain says, “Hey, follow this thing around and do everything that this thing does, because what this thing is, you are.” The duckling will then follow the parent around and mimic feeding, walking, and mating behaviors.
If, for some reason, instead of first seeing a member of his species when he pops out of the shell, he sees a human (or a different animal, or even a chirping football), he will follow that object around and try to be like that object even to the point of harming or killing himself in the process. The point is, attachment matters. Who are you closest to in your life matters. The closer you are with God, the better off you will be because you will be more likely to mimic the behaviors that will take you from human child to almighty being.
The following six ways of assessing the strength of your relationship with God are based on attachment theory commonly used in couples and family therapy, and they apply well to your connection to your spiritual parents. As you read each one, ask yourself how well it applies to the relationship you have built with God. You, like me, will likely find places where you can improve your connection with Him.
Senses: You feel, hear, see, or speak with God.
You sense God’s presence and know when He is close or far. You feel His arms around you as you pray. You recognize His voice. You spend time with Him in His house or other sacred places.
Sameness: You want to be like Him.
You strive to be like God. You copy His behavior like a new kid trying to be in the cool crowd, talking, walking, eating, dressing like He would. Your sense of self merges with God’s to the point that His name becomes a synonym for your name. What God would do, you would do.
Belonging and Loyalty: You wear the “I’m a Child of God” badge with pride.
You recognize you are “His” and you are loyal to that family tie. Because of that belonging, you make big promises to do what He asks when He asks it. As such, you consider yourself part of “His people” and a member of “His fold.”
Significance: You know you matter to God.
When you feel lost, you know He will guide you.12 When you are hurt, you know He will succor you. When you are scared, you know He will comfort you. Why? Because you matter to Him. And you know it.
Emotional Intimacy: You keep God close in your thoughts and heart.
You talk to God a lot and tell Him everything, even the seems-trivial- to-others-but-not-to-you details. Keeping Him close mentally helps you know His opinions, ideas, and thoughts. You feel safe, comforted, and strengthened because of this emotional bond.
Being Known: You feel He knows you.
You feel that He knows you, all of you, the real you. You are okay showing Him the ugly, mean, dark places of you because He doesn’t just know you, He gets you. You feel comfortable being in His presence just as you are, because you know you don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not for Him to love you.
So, what’s the status? Are you and God best buds, or are you bonds of attachment on the tenuous side? Like any relationship, you can never check off “tight with God” as done. It requires constant investment and deposits over the course of a lifetime. If you are feeling disconnected from God, start increasing the amount of time you spend “connecting” with Him during the day. Make daily commitments to sit and talk with Him. Serve Him. Learn about Him.
Ponder His words. And don’t get FOMO! When it’s you and God time, be all in. As you more firmly attach to God, you’ll find that your strong connection to heaven gives you the lift to truly soar.
The following was taken from the book You On Purpose by Susie McGann, currently available at cedarfort.com.