Forming, a work of grace, day eight

On page 59 Takle writes, “How many of us have received the love we truly needed?”  This makes me ask, “How many of us have received the joy we truly needed?’  How many of us had parents who delighted in our unique existence, rejoiced that they had been given a son or daughter from the Lord? A child made especially for them? Who wanted to discover the person they had been given?

Not many!

I am reminded of the study at Duke University where Dr. Maselko looked at the relationships between mothers and their children for over 34 years. The researchers rated the mother’s level of maternal affection as extravagant, normal or very low. Ten percent of the mothers offered their children very low levels of affection. 85 percent had offered “normal” degrees of warmth.  Six percent showered their child with very high amount of maternal affection.

When the children matured into adults they were assessed for feelings of anxiety, hostility and general distress levels. The children who received the most affection had the lowest levels of anxiety, hostility and general distress. Children who received the least amount of affection as infants had the most hostility, insecurity and general distress.

The researchers concluded that maternal affection promotes healthy bonding and emotional attachment, which helps the child develop social skills that are key to coping with general stress and anxiety.

Several things struck me with this study. The first was the labels.  Mothers were labeled as normal, low and extravagant. I suspect the researchers initially expected the children of extravagant moms to be spoiled brats, hence the label “extravagant.”  When I was young there was great concern about spoiling children. Now we know that the healthiest adults comes from those extravagantly affectionate moms, who make up only a teensy six percent of the study group.

Takle writes, “How many of us ever felt entirely safe when in the care of another human being?”

“Our truster gets broken and we become highly guarded, highly protected individuals . . . Instead of seeing ourselves as broken and in need of healing, we tend to see others as untrustworthy.”

Oh Lord, have mercy on us for surely our truster is broken and we can’t fix it. We see you based on our experience and the thought of engaging with you is pretty scary!  But we know that you love us beyond measure. Help us to recognized your love and to come a little closer.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

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