We, as human beings, thrive in an environment of love and positive connection. The absence of it can lead to all kinds of emotional, relational, and even physical damage. Psychologists tell us from the time we’re born we look to form bonds with people we feel safe with, usually our mother first, although our confidence is being formed in relationship with fallible people.
One study in 1945 looked at infants in institutions and found those who had not been held or given affection showed drastically higher rates of illness and even death, even though all their physical needs were met.
Here’s what Dr. Henry Cloud says about the importance of this type of bonding:
“Over time, the child gradually internalizes his mother’s care. He begins storing up memories of being comforted by her. In a sense, the child takes his mother in and stores her inside his memory. This internalization gives him a greater and greater sense of security.”
“As this relationship gets stronger, and stronger, the child reaches another milestone: he achieves ’emotional object constancy.’ What this means is that the child is able to experience himself as loved constantly, even in the absence of the loved one….”
“Spiritually, this is what Jesus was praying for when He prayed for the Father to be in us, and for His love to abide in us. God is consistent in the way that He deals with us. In the same way a child develops ’emotional object constancy,’ we develop ‘spiritual object constancy.'” (Cloud, “Changes that Heal,” p.63-64)
Dr. Cloud goes on to say that this is why it’s important to remember our personal encounters with God’s love and His goodness to us, which is also why Israel was commanded to keep their testimonies. In fact, we find that they fell into bondage because they forgot the many times God had been good to them and they did not keep their connection with Him (See Psalm 78).
32 In spite of this they still sinned,
And did not believe in His wondrous works.
33 Therefore their days He consumed in futility,
And their years in fear. (Psalm 78:32-33 NKJV)
The critical importance of this connection brings me to what Paul told the Romans in chapter 8:
35 Who could ever separate us from the endless love of God’s Anointed One? Absolutely no one! For nothing in the universe has the power to diminish his love toward us. Troubles, pressures, and problems are unable to come between us and heaven’s love. What about persecutions, deprivations, dangers, and death threats? No, for they are all impotent to hinder omnipotent love, 36 even though it is written:
All day long we face death threats for your sake, God.
We are considered to be nothing more
than sheep to be slaughtered!
37 Yet even in the midst of all these things, we triumph over them all, for God has made us to be more than conquerors, and his demonstrated love is our glorious victory over everything! (Rom.8:35-37 TPT*)
Notice that we’re made “more than conquerors” by two things: (1) We can never be separated from God or His unchanging, infinite love for us; (2) Living from this place of constant connection and affection makes us able to overcome any circumstance this life may bring. There’s nothing in the universe that can overcome His love!
It’s the power of His love that not only makes us thrive spiritually, emotionally, and physically, it’s also the most powerful motivator to help us overcome any obstacle, fear or anxiety, do heroic acts and perform at a level we never thought possible.
In other words, we become fully alive and fully human in His perfect love.
Now, fear is also a powerful motivator. Someone may put a gun to your head and make you do something you would never do, like commit some crime for them, but it’s not a good motivator, nor is it effective.
For instance, if this same criminal kidnaps your child, your love for your child may overcome your fear and you’ll do whatever it takes to overpower them in order to free your child, even sacrifice your own life.
Beloved, we were made for affectionate connection. We thrive when we have it, we suffer when we don’t.
And God is, first and foremost, about relationship and other-centered, self-giving love. He’s never been alone at any time, for the Father has always loved the Son (John 1:1, 17:24). And you are never alone.
He will never ever leave you nor will He ever love you any less. There’s absolutely no circumstance, nor any place in this universe, that can separate you from Him or His affections for you, for He loves you exactly the same as He loves Himself (John 15:9).
Remember this, walk in it, and you will thrive in all that you do.
38 So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. 39 There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! (Rom.8:38-39 TPT*)
His love makes us brave! “No fear can hinder now the Love that made a way.”