I can remember sitting in a psychology class my freshman year of college and learning about Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. I was so struck that humans needed food clothing shelter (of course) and then- BELONGING (really?). It seemed like such a high and lofty abstract need compared to the others. Maybe my INTJ personality, or extreme introversion –indeed even social anxiety– caused me to shudder at the thought. “Belonging… that’s for needy people.”
I guess this thought came from my naiveté and also the fact I had been raised within a family that gave me a very healthy sense of belonging- so much so I didn’t recognize the need. (Thanks parents!)
But wow– do we humans need it. For some, in extreme cases, the need for belonging can actually become stronger than the need for basic safety- such as a child clinging to an abusive adult.
I noticed a drawing done by my 6 year old recently:
Wow… what an expression of a basic need. It broke my heart. “Who are THEY?” “Do THEY know what they are missing?!” “Why wouldn’t THEY want to play with such a precious girl?”
We have all been there. To feel a PART of something, to be loved, admired, understood and heard brings life, meaning, purpose. To feel alone, unloved, not respected, misunderstood or ignored brings death, meaninglessness, aimlessness.
My girls (ages 6 & 8) have lots of commentary about being left out. I tell them the same thing I tell myself. “You be the one to reach out. You be the one to include. The best way to have a friend is to be one.”
If there is one need I have discovered in almost everyone I talk with, this is it. Belonging. My own sense of belonging has been quite shaken since January 2018. Who knew it would be so important… just above food, clothing, and shelter, right?
Friends, I am finding my way again; and the good news is, “Whether we live or die, we belong to God.” (Romans 14:8)