Last week on The Allender Center Podcast, we shared a conversation with Dan Allender and his daughter, Amanda, and son-in-law, Jeff, as they welcomed their newborn daughter. (Listen here: Grace Is in the World.) This week, Dan and his wife, Becky Allender, reflect on the glory of a new life in the world and the experience of becoming grandparents again.
Dan: “There’s something about what we’re to learn about the life of a newborn that cascades into so many elements about the wonder of God and the wonder of how we are fearfully and wonderfully created.”
Becky: “It’s all new again, and such a joy to see Amanda and Jeff delight in being Grace’s parents. The wonder just cascades back—we remember each grandchild, and each child. It’s just wonderful.”
Becky and Dan reflect on what research has revealed about attachment, attunement, and socialization in the first days of life.
Becky: “They are so wired with just their expressions. I’m just amazed—the muscles in a newborn’s face are just exquisite. I’m amazed how many expressions Grace makes in just 30 seconds. To be attuned to every little wrinkle of her brow, her lips, her smile—you’re mesmerized, you can’t take your eyes away from her. And I really think that’s built into the fabric of a human being. We are so captured. We are wired to be connected, to take in every bit.”
Dan: “In the study of trauma, one of the things that is very clear is that the level of attachment allows a human being to be able to modulate, to regulate, something of their affect. […] A child regulates their affect by the presence of the care of another.”
Dan compares Becky’s playful interactions with baby Grace with Zephaniah 3:17 and the image of God holding us and singing lullabies over us.
Dan: “We’ve got this protective, containing God who knows that our hearts are going to respond a lullaby, to a sweet song, a voice that is consistent with what our hearts need to know in order to have comfort.”
We are wired from birth for engagement, socializing, and taking in beauty. Dan refers to this famous video, which is a devastating look at how important emotional attunement and engagement is at the earliest stages of life.
Dan: “What happens when you know your own life and heart did not have an attuned, expressive engagement? The consequences, the wiring of cellular processes, are really dramatic.”
As we enter the holiday season, may the beautiful example of an infant inspire us to slow down and take the time to engage others more intentionally and more fully, to connect ourselves with those who care for us and for whom we care, so that we can call out the goodness of God in our attachments to one another.