Everyone needs to belong

You see it all the time.

There, in the corner of the room, looking down, sits another one. You can tell she’s not having a good time. She hardly looks up. But then again, why should she? She feels invisible.

According to Abraham Maslow, all people have a hierarchy of needs. From the very basic need, Physiological, to the top: self-actualization. I enjoyed learning about Maslow’s triangle.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

His theory helped me because I was stuck and I didn’t even know it. And I stayed stuck until one day I met someone who basically told me, “Stop Trying so Hard to be Accepted; You Already Are.”

Being stuck

And once I understood more about the triangle, I stopped feeling bad that I hadn’t effortlessly moved up this pyramid. You see, if someone’s needs go unmet, they tend to stay at one level for a while.

Maybe you can identify which level you are on.

And for those unfamiliar with self-actualization, it’s the level when we realize we are part of a bigger picture and we’re ready to give back.

Why we might get stuck?

The circumstances of our lives affect how we move through each level, and if we ever reach the top. Some people never do. The people Maslow interviewed as he was doing his research were among the top 1% of educated people. The cream of the crop, like Albert Einstein.

Maslow believed in order to move onto the next level, a person must master the level they are on. Only A’s allowed.

But let’s look at what might cause someone to stall. What could the reasons be?

Well, if they were in an abusive home, they would not be able to master the safety level, and through no fault of their own, they might be there for a while. That was my story.

But growth is possible. And In my case, while Psychology was one of my loves, it wasn’t everything.

One day, I walked into the basement of a bungalow in Chicago, Illinois, and I met a woman who would change my life. Her reference book wasn’t a textbook, it was a Bible.

She taught me things that I could apply even to Maslow’s hierarchy. Level by level.

Physiological

I learned that God will meet all our needs. So there at the ground floor, no matter what our circumstances. God takes care of the birds of the air and he tells us we are more valuable than sparrows. He promises he will meet all our needs.

Safety

God is a strong tower who will protect us. If the God of the universe is saying, “I’ve got your back,” We will be safe.

And for people like me, who grew up afraid because of abuse, God has kept his promises. He has looked after me.

Love and Belonging

Lois, the housewife who lived in that bungalow, taught young adults in her home. We sat at long tables down in her basement, as she sipped her black coffee, and told us about Jesus.

She didn’t speak of him as a historical figure, but instead, she spoke of him as if she knew him, loved him. And every word made us want to know him too.

Lois told us when a person accepts that he/she is a sinner and acknowledges that Jesus paid for their sins when he shed his blood on the cross, that person becomes a child of God. It is believing what God said in his Word.

And on September 12th, many years ago, I came to that realization. What I didn’t comprehend at the time, was how long I had been looking for a place I could belong. Having lost my mom a few years prior, I had also lost my family. A mom is the glue that holds family together.

Esteem

This would be a tricky one. Those who grow up in abusive homes struggle with their self-esteem. They feel unworthy because they’re constantly being told they are unworthy. And being slapped in the face or beaten, just drives that point home.

Little by little, Lois showed us we were accepted. When decided to trust what Jesus did on the cross, that God looked at us and he saw us as forgiven. And more than that he sees us as he sees his own Son. And believe me, those are not my words, but his.

I myself, have struggled from time to time with feelings of low self- esteem, but when I read the Bible, God’s love letter, God continually reminds me how valuable I am.

My name is written on the palm of his hand. He counts the hairs on my head. He collects my tears when I’ve cried.

Maslow’s level Esteem— check.

Self-actualization

Learning about God has also shown me that our lives are just part of a bigger picture. God loves the world. He created everything, and whether you believe it or not, it’s still true. When we become self-actualized, we want to give back.

I’m a writer. I love taking words and weaving them into pieces others can enjoy. I take writing seriously. It’s a viable way for me to share lessons in life, mistakes I’ve made, and even things that turned out okay. I share because it’s not all about me.

Then and now

I did struggle in the past, just wanting my pain to stop. But when I understood I was totally accepted, I knew this news was too good to keep to myself.

So, if you’re the invisible person, the one who’s been searching for acceptance, or a place to belong, then this is for you: God loves you. And he can heal those wounded places inside of you. How do I know? He did it for me.

And before you say, “But you don’t know how hard I’ve had it.” While that may be true, I do know hard things, and I know loss.

I lost my mom, my dad, my sister who was murdered, I’ve had a couple of miscarriages, lost two brothers and my sweet grandbaby. My life has been riddled with losses.

But God has been my comfort in each and every one. That’s just the kind of God he is. And I am serious about that.

Call to Action:

Where are you in Maslow’s triangle?
Do you feel accepted?
I would love to hear from you.

Visit Anne at AnnePeterson.com. 

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