As we approach the Thanksgiving season, two things likely fill our thoughts more than any others: gathering with the people we love and food. It can be easy to get sucked in to the hurried pace of planning meals, cooking favorite dishes, and traveling places and forget that our level of attachment matters in this season too. Maybe in a more unique way than any other type of restoration, Thanksgiving brings our hearts and minds into the right posture to restore through taste.
Before we specifically focus on how to restore through taste, let’s take a few minutes to talk about how earned secure attachment relates to our senses.
The Season of Earned Secure Attachment
Earned secure attachment occurs step by step, minute by minute, and mile by mile when we tell our stories to an empathetic listener who invites us to see them through a different lens.
It’s as simple and hard as that.
It’s simple because it does not involve taking a class, earning a degree, or learning another language. But it’s hard because it requires the courage to do what poet and pastor George Herbert admonished his parishioners to do almost three hundred years ago: “By all means use sometimes to be alone. / . . . see what thy soul doth wear.” It’s hard because it requires slowing down long enough to know yourself and know your story. It’s hard because it requires the courageous and sometimes painful glance inward and backward at your behaviors in the present and how they affect the people around you as well as where your behaviors might have originated. And it’s hard because it requires the desire to get well. Sometimes that’s the hardest part of all.
It’s so much easier to stay stuck in the current narratives in our heads that stem from our hurts and wounds from the past. It’s who we’ve always been; it’s what we’ve always known. But earned secure attachment requires the willingness to at least listen to a different version of our story and work toward believing it could be true.
This courageous storytelling and empathetic listening can happen around the dinner table each night if you’re not too tired, correcting table manners every fifteen seconds, or shoving bites of food in your mouth between feeding bites to another person. It can happen at a friend’s house over a cup of coffee, in a conversation with a parent or spouse, or in the middle of a party when the world slows down and a rare, insightful connection occurs with one person while a hundred other people are milling around.
But I have found that those times of connection and someone listening and retelling our stories through a different lens are an occasional, unplanned, and unexpected gift.
Rebuilding a Sensory Foundation
No matter your age or experience, to repair knowledge, you start with the senses. You go back to the rhythms of the nursery and the newborn and respond to their cries (or lack thereof), look into their eyes, provide physical sustenance and nourishment, validate their needs, touch comfortingly and affirmingly with your hands, apply soothing scents, and rock, bounce, hold, and sway. As you do so, a healthy foundation of sensory knowledge begins to be rebuilt, bit by bit, piece by piece. Out of the ruins, healing rises.
With every piece of solid sensory foundation you lay, what ends up being restored and rebuilt is not only someone’s sensory knowledge but also the secure attachment between a parent and child. This is not only necessary for a healthy relationship between the parent and child but is necessary for every healthy relationship in that child’s life for the rest of her days.
As Mia Grace’s senses were repaired and her connection to Jason and I secured, I began to use those same principles to repair my senses and secure my connection to my heavenly Father as well. Instead of experiencing a rocking chair and the literal touch of His hands, God used the discipline of prayer and the words of the Psalms to steady me and communicate His faithful love.
Instead of literally crying out and hearing Him respond to me audibly, God used the comfort, guidance, and direction of His Spirit from the inside out and wise counselors who helped me to navigate my story from the outside in.
Instead of serving me an actual plate of nourishing food at my place at the table, God began to teach me through His Word to process the circumstances of my life through a lens of contentment, thankfulness, and peace instead of angrily pushing my plate away.
In the book, I go into greater detail, starting with the sense of hearing, then moving to sight, and then touch before coming to taste and ending with scent. As we prepare to literally taste the food at our Thanksgiving tables, we’ll start by looking at taste.
Starting With Our Taste
In two weeks, I’ll go more in depth about what this means for our earned secure attachment. But as you read, jot down these questions and answer them as honestly as possible to assess the state of your spiritual sense of taste.
Is my sense of taste broken? Am I able to regularly taste and see that God is trustworthy and good, or do I live with a regular taste of bitterness, anger, cynicism, doubt or despair in my mouth?
How can I use regular times of feasting on God’s Word and meditating on God’s character to repair my sense of taste?
How can I use my tools of prayer, lamenting, and praising to move me from the taste of doubt and despair to the taste of amazing grace?
What plate am I pushing away that I need to trust God and embrace in this season of my life?
How does a secure sense of taste facilitate and rebuild secure attachment to our good God?
Just to be clear: no matter how “secure” we are or how far along on our attachment journey we are, working toward healthy, whole, restored senses is a lifelong journey. The world’s voice is so loud, our flesh is so strong, and the enemy of our souls so crafty in how he works to lie to us and distort the truth that there is never a time my senses don’t need a little work of rebuilding and restoring. Repentance for the things I’ve seen and heard. Forgiveness and acceptance to lift the stench of guilt and shame. Time in God’s Word to fill my hungry soul. Stillness and quiet to hear God’s voice once again.
Please know that I am not suggesting you can literally “taste” God or “touch” the Holy Spirit. But what I am saying is that when I started reading Scripture, praying, and relating to God as my Father in this most simplistic of forms, through my senses, all the pieces of my life began to fall into place. I am also saying that in whatever ways you need to be heard, seen, touched, and known, secure attachment is waiting for you as you learn—just like Mia Grace and just like me—to connect to God through the senses He made first and foremost to connect to Him.
I hope you’ll join me here again in two weeks to get specific about how we can restore through taste by accepting the invitation to sit at God’s table.