Restoration of the HEART

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18 (KJV)

God and His Word has a lot to say about relationships, connection, intimacy, bonding, and sex. In relationship connections, we find comfort, safety and nurturing that allows us to develop as a whole person. Truly loving others maturely and not becoming co-dependent comes from loving and respecting ourselves first which only comes from “wholeness” through intimate relationship with God!

Statistics have shown that happiness is correlated to the cultivation and experience of stable, healthy relationships. When you have healthy relationships and feel loved and accepted for who you are, you are much more likely to be a healthy, happy person. Connection is the key to happiness. God wants us to be happy, and experience the joy of whole, secure relationships. Let’s go a little deeper into the issues surrounding relationship connections: the issues of bonding and attachment.

Our connections are determined in large part by how we bond. Our bonding patterns are formed by good, or lack of “good,” attachment bonding, which is related to certain behaviors that parents exhibit with their babies.

Attachment bonding sets the stage for better adjustment all through our lives. It is the foundation of how we are formed and the beliefs, behaviors that we will carry out in our lifetime. Parental engrossment describes the characteristics that occur when the parents are engrossed and begin to bond with the infant.

Pay careful attention to these behaviors and you will see that many of these same characteristics can be seen later during the courtship phase of intimacy as you enter relationships.

Parental Engrossment leading to strong, healthy attachments in babies:

1) Absorption, preoccupation and interest, including visual awareness and focusing on the beauty of the child;

2) Tactile awareness, focusing on holding, stroking, kissing;

3) Awareness of distinct positive physical characteristics;

4) Perception of the baby as “perfect”;

5) Development of a feeling of very strong attraction to the baby;

6) Experiencing a feeling of elation while with the baby;

7) Experiencing a deep sense of satisfaction and self-esteem;

8) Increased blood pressure, pulse and respiration while interacting with the baby;

While these intensive behaviors wane as the child gets older, these early attachment behaviors gives the child security, or lack of the behaviors leads to insecurity in the child. Studies show that 85% of our personality is set by age 6. Security or insecurity under-girding the personality in a person can determine whether or not this person will develop healthy attachments to others, or unhealthy and codependent attachments.

Bonding in adult relationships begins with infatuation and the particular behaviors associated with it. Scientists believe certain brain chemicals that are secreted in our limbic system (the part which governs basic emotions) during infatuation and adult attachment contribute to the bonding process.

While the initial bonding part of an adult relationship is exciting due to infatuation, adult attachment is more warm, comfortable and secure. All of us have bonding needs but there are usually one or two that are more important than the rest. They are possibly needs that were not completely fulfilled in your childhood.

Besides infatuation, love maps dictate how we choose a mate. A love map is a map in our heart or mind made up of the characteristics from the first people we fall in love with – our early caregivers. A love map can have characteristics that are positive, negative or a blend of both. The “love maps” formed in our heart or mind can determine one or two bonding needs that are traits we didn’t receive in our childhood that greatly influence our choice in mates. These one or two traits can cause us to continue choosing partners that are themselves unable to have healthy relationships. If you have a sneaking feeling sometimes that your relationships are different faces, but the same old sad love story, then this could be what is going on. We have to deal with the root cause of the cycle to interrupt it and obtain from God the things we keep seeking in other people. This means that, like me, because of early experiences, your idea of what is “normal” may instead be “somewhat toxic."

As we grow into adulthood, we are to put away childish understandings and concepts. Any unhealthy relationship cycles in your life must be stopped, and healthy, mature relationship cycles must begin in your life to have the happiness that God has for you. We move into unselfish maturity, which brings us security, reduced anxiety, peace and greater love in relationships.

A healthy relationship takes time to grow. Here are 10 crucial aspects victorious adult relationships should have. 

Each one has a scripture next to them. I encourage you to study these scriptures and commit them to heart, especially if you didn’t always experience healthy relationships growing up.

1. ACCEPTANCE: To experience a deliberate reception of a favorable response. (Romans 15:7)

2. RESPECT: To hold in high regard. (Romans 12:10)

3. ATTENTION: To convey interest and thought to another (1 Corinthians 12: 25)

4. EMPATHY / COMFORT: To give consolation with tenderness (1 Thessalonians 4:18)

5. APPRECIATION: To communicate gratefulness with words and feelings (1 Corinthians 1:4)

6. SECURITY: To have confidence of harmony and freedom from harm (Mark 6:50)

: To come alongside and gently help carry a load (Galatians 6:2)

: Expressed commendation and positive affirmation (Romans 14:18)

9. AFFECTION: To communicate care and closeness with physical touch (Romans 16:16)

10. ENCOURAGEMENT: To urge forward and positively persuade toward a goal (Hebrews 10:24)

Love is something we can learn to do. 1 Corinthians 13 describes the love that makes natural the regular practice of the above behaviors in our relationships. Love endures, it is patient and kind, it suffers long, and it is not envious. Love is not jealous. In other words, there is no fear of someone being preferred over you. Love is not boastful, haughty, or rude. It does not act unbecomingly. Love is not self-seeking or selfish. Love is not resentful and keeps no record of things done wrong. Love bears up under anything. It never fails!

The best way to experience restoration of the heart is to walk in God’s love. Life is relational; it is impacted by those to whom we are connected. When we are joined and established in covenant relationship, we can experience great joy. In order to have healthy, fulfilling relationships, we have to be whole in our bonding needs, and experience crucial elements of healthy adult relationships. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and applying God’s Word, we can experience restoration of the heart in our relationships.