Published by Zondervan on February 22, 2022
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life
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Why does God feel so far away? The reason--and the solution--is in your attachment style.
We all experience moments when God's love and presence are tangible. But we also experience feeling utterly abandoned by God. Why?
The answer is found when you take a deep look at the other important relationships in your life and understand your attachment style. Through his years working in trauma recovery programs, extensive research into attachment science, and personal experiences with spiritual striving and abuse, licensed therapist Krispin Mayfield has learned to answer the question: Why do I feel so far from God?
When you understand your attachment style you gain a whole new paradigm for a secure and loving relationship with God. You'll gain insights about:
How you relate to others--both your strengths and weaknessesThe practical exercises you can use to grow a secure spiritual attachment to GodHow to move forward on the spirituality spectrum and experience the Divine connection we all were created forYou'll learn to identify and remove mixed messages about closeness with God that you may have heard in church or from well-meaning Christians. With freedom from the past, you can then chart a new path toward intimate connection with the God of the universe.
Attached to God is the type of book you can’t grasp in one reading. I had a difficult time writing this review because every time I sat down to parse out just how I felt about it, I ended up opening the book and losing myself in a chapter, a page, or even just a paragraph. There was something new and different to reflect on every time I opened its pages. I could have easily written five different (and always positive!) versions of this review based simply on what struck me as most relevant at the time I was writing.
Attached to God is a book about your relationship with God, specifically why that relationship might be a struggle. Why does God feel so far away? The reason—and the solution—is in your attachment style. It’s a bold prediction from the back cover, a bit hyperbolic compared to Mayfield’s more careful and nuanced claims in the book, but it isn’t incorrect. Understanding the problem has to be the first step. If you’re on the wrong path, running down it harder won’t get you any closer to your goal. Instead, Krispin encourages readers to step back, evaluate their path, and build a bridge toward a better way forward.
As a licensed professional counselor, Krispin Mayfield’s clinical practice focuses on attachment-based emotionally focused therapy. This paradigm establishes four different ways people relate to others: secure, anxious, avoidant, or fearful. Obviously, a secure attachment is the goal of all relationships with the other three being characterized by different themes. Mayfield draws out each of these themes to explore why individuals may have developed insecure attachments with God.
The first two chapters of Attached to God provide an introduction to Mayfield’s thesis. In the opener “The Still Face of God,” Krispin uses the imagery of the Still Face experiment, where a parent refuses to show emotion to their young child. The child reacts to get a response, then cries, then ends up in a full-on meltdown because of the perceived emotional distance from their parent. It can be the same way with God, at times. How do we find ourselves relating to God when we feel distant from him? How do we reach for closeness with the Divine? The second chapter builds a general overview of attachment science, briefly outlining the four different attachment styles.
The three chapters that follow expand upon that general outline, with a chapter each on the three insecure attachment styles. Attached to God explores why individuals may have ended up relating to God with one of these three styles and the results are eye-opening. As the product of American evangelicalism, Mayfield’s context and experience often comes from that religious paradigm.
When he speaks of anxious attachment, he gives the example of A.W. Tozer, a man famous for this relationship with and writing about God. Mayfield carefully and respectfully examines Tozer’s life, suggesting that his single-minded desire to cultivate a relationship with God was not based in healthy attachment, but from an anxiety-ridden attachment that never felt secure in the relationship: It’s as though he clung to the hem of God’s skirt, unable to venture out into the world, robbed of the ability to grow, learn, and engage with others.
Shutdown spirituality—or avoidant attachment—is where any expression of negative emotion is believed to lead to strain in the relationship. The relationship must be perfect: Christians shouldn’t feel sadness or worry or doubt or anything else that questions God’s goodness. This leads to a relationship with God that is often disconnected or insincere. We feel that we can’t be authentic in our relationship with God or question the Divine in any way. Again, Mayfield looks toward the evangelical church, which has often suppressed doubt or worry, cultivated a theology of celebration, and offer simplistic answers to difficult questions as a driving factor toward the development of this attachment.
Shame-filled spirituality, or fearful attachment, is probably the most prevalent insecure attachment I’ve seen as an evangelical pastor. In Reformed circles, specifically, but evangelicalism in general, the depravity of humanity and the vastness of human sin is constantly at the forefront of the conversation. The resultant view of God is one that is judgmental and wrathful, whose love comes with conditions and who is never happy with you just as you are.
After a transition chapter, Attached to God then goes back through these three attachment styles to focus on how we move from insecure to secure attachments. How do we move from anxiety to rest, from being shut down to being engaged, from being filled with shame to being filled with delight? The path that Krispin Mayfield presents isn’t easy, but it is clear. He offers a different way of relating to God, one that is more liberating, more loving, and more secure.
If your relationship with God has been shaken, these words from Krispin Mayfield will be a balm for your weary soul. Consider that the problem isn’t you and it isn’t God—it’s how your culture has presented God to you and how it taught you to relate with God. The Divine is not fickle or angry or disappointed in you. You are loved by God unconditionally. Attached to God is a gospel message to those mired in evangelical religion. This is one of the most important books I’ve read in a long time. Krispin Mayfield pinpoints precisely where so many people are struggling, but few have the language to express that struggle let alone find a path to healing.
Attached to God gives a voice to a generation of Christians seeking a different way of finding God than their churches have presented. It validates their trauma, acknowledges their pain, and gently shepherds them toward healing. If we take this book seriously, it will start a revival.