Guarding Against “Attachment Disorder”

Last fall, I read an article in a Christian magazine about Eastern European children who have been adopted by American couples. The author noted that many such children have great difficulty clinging to their new parents. It seems that, in many cases, the abandonment they experience in the early years of their development causes them to have a problem trusting anyone – including the new parents. Their lives can be marked by hostility, inability to form close relationships, and distrust of people, particularly authority figures. These children can become self-destructive, highly sensitive to rejection and anger, and blame everyone close to them for the problems in their lives. Psychologists call this syndrome Attachment Disorder.

As I read it, I immediately realized that it’s not just Eastern European children who struggle with Attachment Disorder. I think our population is filled with people who have abandonment issues. Every one you know has faced rejection on one level or another. Rejection from…

  • A peer who made it his objective to publicly humiliate you.
  • A teacher who didn’t understand different ways students learn.
  • A coworker who used your friendship to advance his own career.

Even these small things can make it hard for us to bond with others.

While we all see this as sad because it prevents love being shared between people, the real tragedy is spiritual. Every time you are rejected by someone significant in your life, Satan hands you a brick to put in the wall between you and God. And the distance between God and you becomes greater, if you let it. The Bible teaches us that God has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He will never abandon us.

In the account of Jesus walking on the water, Peter experiences a Savior who holds on to him. As we grab on to this teaching, we can overcome any tendency toward Attachment Disorder and begin to engage in meaningful relationships.