A healthy relationship is one where there is alignment (our goals, ideals, desires are the same or similar), reciprocity (a flow of give and take that brings life and purpose), and most importantly a sense of responsibility for our own actions, choices, and behaviors. Relationship is NOT about merging our selves with others but working in harmony in such a way that our individual uniqueness combined with our partner’s uniqueness creates a greater harmonic beauty.
All human beings have three essential needs as we grow in our relationships: To be known and heard, to be accepted and valued, and to be validated and understood. We each have the capacity to provide these needs for our relationships as long as we know they will in turn be met by my partner or others.
This idea of getting our needs met and meeting other’s needs requires a level of awareness of both self and of others. Jesus knows our hearts even before we know (Pslm 139:1-6) and also has the storehouse and capacity to meet each of those needs, so what is our reciprocal part in this relationship?
ATTONE: To make amends, to reconcile
- The process of acknowledging our part in the relationship and taking responsibility for our choices, actions, and behaviors.
- To open up our hearts, all the locked doors, without defense and acknowledge who we are with deep remorse or great joy and look forward with anticipation for the changes that can take place.
Radical acceptance is the beginning of healing and the only way to accept responsibility for who we really are.
Prov 28:13 (NIV) Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
Jeremiah 31:19 (NIV) After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.
Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV) Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offiensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Only when we truly take personal responsibility for our choices, actions, and behaviors can we fully available and free to connect in a healthy way with God and others in our lives. Our atonement is not about salvation but about recognizing who, what and where we are in this world and then choosing a healthier way of connecting.
ATTUNE: To bring into harmony, tune (as a radio station), to make aware or responsive.
Attunement is the concept of being truly present with the one you are in relationship with. This means physically orienting yourself, setting aside any distractions (technology, activity), mentally drop our defenses and engage our curiosity, and then focus on what is about to take place.
Think of an Orchestra Conductor who quietly steps up on his platform, taps the music stand with his baton, raises his arms and dramatically pauses; the music is about to start. Attention with Anticipation.
Attunement involves the following: Being aware/Being present, Turning toward the relationship, Tolerance/Acceptance of the other without judgement, Seek understanding of who, what and where the other is, Drop your defenses and allow Empathy for the other’s position.
Aware: 2 Corinthians 3:15-17, Turn Toward: Matthew 11:28-30, Tolerance/Acceptance: John 8:10-11, Understanding: Proverbs 4:5-8,
ATTACH: To bring oneself into an association, to bind by personal ties as of affection or sympathy, to make fast as by tying or gluing.
We are the most experiential dependent creatures on this planet. The experiences we have in life forms the patterns of thinking, feeling, behaving that we use in our relationships. These patterns are formed primarily within the first 4 to 5 years of life as we engage with our primary caregivers. How we attach to them will often formulate how we attach to other intimate relationships in our future.
Secure Base/Safe Haven: The knowledge that the one who loves us will always be there when we need and that they will always be able to meet our needs when we do return.
Psalm 91:2, 14-16 (NLT) This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. Whey they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them.
Small Things Often…Create Secure Attachments
Attachment Styles: Secure – able to trust, know who you are and how you relate to others, Anxious – Concerned if others accept/love them, at times hypervigilant for signs of abandonment, can be people pleasers, Avoidant – Have to depend on self, doesn’t allow others too close, equate intimacy with a loss of independence.
As you consider the three aspects of restoring/maintaining relationships (Atone, Attune, Attach) consider the following questions:
- What does the idea of personal Atonement mean to you?
- What does “Taking personal responsibility look like to you?
- If Jesus is our Atonement, then what part does our atonement play in our relationship with Christ?
- In your relationship with Christ and others, what does attunement look like to you?
- What would you say are some of the challenges or distractions of this life that threatens our attachment to God and others?
- Would you say you are attached in your current relationship with God? Do you look forward to spending time with God or is it a chore?
- What is your attachment style? Is it affecting your life today?