This past week at the camp for differently-abled people where I work, we hosted a higher functioning group. I found it most interesting their obvious need for companionship and friendship with literally every person they met.
They sought after what should be considered the most basic of all needs. Of course, food, sleep and the need to use the restroom are at the top of the list. Food always seemed to be at least number two on their list of needs. But I believe love—both giving and receiving—is essentially at the top of their list.
With this in mind, I did a quick search on the internet, asking what basic human needs are. One of the things I found is what is called the “Maslow Hierarchy of Basic Needs.” According to this list of needs, love and belonging comes in third place, just behind survival and safety. But even more surprising is that love is ahead of necessities like self-esteem and self-fulfillment or self-actualization. Is it true, that love is even more important than self-esteem?
What this tells me is that our self-worth and our ability to feel fulfilled in our lives, can only come after our ability to show and give love. Sure, we can fake it, put on a good show and cover ourselves with masks of our choosing, but one day the masks will be torn away. Fake it until you make it, is a falsehood that will never be sustainable no matter how hard you try, or even what you try.
From the beginning of creation, love was to rule the world, and Jesus confirmed this by giving us just one commandment: to love. When we look at the world and what it says about love, it tells us that we need to love ourselves first. But in this commandment that Christ gave us, He tells us to love God first and others as ourselves secondly (Mark 12:30).
When we seek to love ourselves first we will continue to fall into the snares set by this fallen world. How many times a day does the society we live in do everything it can to separate us, isolate us, and keep us running back to the misery of our selfishness and our compulsive behaviors for comfort?
God’s word tells us to esteem others and to do nothing for our own selfish ambition (Philippians 2:4-5). God created us for community. God created us for love—to give and receive.
Fear has got us on the run. Fear of rejection, fear of being judged because of our feelings. God has called us out of the darkness of selfishness. He has called us into the light of love--period!
There are times and situations in my own life, less often now than before, that make it almost impossible for me to give love freely. In the past I retreated to a place of self-protection and defensiveness, thinking the whole world was against me and wanted to destroy me. Guess what? I was right! Our enemy, the devil, is prowling around seeking to kill, steal and destroy our very lives (John 10:10, 1 Peter 5:8). Even if he can’t kill you, he can mislead you out of God’s best and into worldly vices that will steal and destroy your family, your job, and everything that you hold dear. The way of this world is the path to destruction.
I know from personal experience what can happen when you turn to the world instead of to God for comfort and guidance—the ability to love becomes almost nonexistent. But we don’t have to continue in this shroud of darkness, we can run back to the only place where love, forgiveness, grace and mercy flow abundantly—at the feet of Christ. It is only there that the freedom to feel can be found. Where shame and guilt must release it’s hold over you. The darkness of your past must flee when the light of God’s Word fills your mind and thoughts.
Allow me to join you on your adventure through the valley of the shadow of death, to that place of calm waters, where love is abundant, and grace and mercy flows freely.
Over the next couple weeks, we will explore strategies and tools you can use to help free yourself from the tethers that could be holding you in a cycle of defeat. Using these tools will allow you to experience the joy of victory.
May the light of God always shine upon you.