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Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Deepest Need, Part One

What do you need?

A vacation? A phone call from a friend? Two hours of sleep? A bucket of Boardwalk Fries? Your answer probably depends a lot on your current situation. But beyond the immediate situational needs, are you aware of what you REALLY need?

American psychologist Abraham Maslow is best known for his hierarchy of needs. Maslow, who founded the humanistic school of psychology, describes the human hierarchy of needs as kind of like a pyramid. Physiological needs at the bottom--we need food, water, air, sleep, etc. Then Safety, Love, Esteem, and Self Actualizing in that order.

In spite of the fact that Maslow was very humanistic, his pyramid of needs does ring of truth in some ways. I'm a big fan of those physiological needs. I'm fond of safety. I like being loved and belonging. Having confidence and feeling good about myself are pleasant qualities of life. And certainly, I strive to be all I can be.

But more and more, I find myself recognizing an even deeper need. It's a need that circulates through all of Maslow's elements…through, beneath, and above them all. It is a need so absolutely critical to human health that to ignore it is the most tragic form of denial in all of human experience. If this need is not met, then all of the other needs cannot be met without some form of self deception.

See, in my experience, ALL of those other needs are flawed. Flawed in the sense that they are only temporarily satisfying or they come with strings attached. Take the physiological needs for instance. Food. We eat some. It tastes good. We feel full. But guess what? In a few hours (or minutes, if you're like me), you'll be hungry again. Oh, and depending on what kind of food you eat and how much of it, you might just contribute to your own demise.

Or, consider the need for love. I love my wife. I love my kids. And most of the time, I do a pretty good job. Most of the time. I hate to admit it, but from time to time, I willingly (or willfully) have failed to love my wife and kids like I should.

What about safety and shelter? Houses grow old. Pipes rust. And what is it with "home improvement projects?" Is it just me or do all of these little fix-it sessions take four times as long as you think they will??!!

And even the top tier: self actualizing. Sounds kind of pop-psychological, new age sort of know your inner person. But this is how Maslow himself defines it:

"A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write,
if he is to be at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.
This is the need we may call self-actualization ... It refers to man's
desire for fulfillment, namely to the tendency for him to become
actually in what he is potentially: to become everything that one
is capable of becoming ..."
You know, I dig this…to a degree. We all have talents and desires, the fulfillment of which grants us a measure of wonderful satisfaction. It feels great to see someone reading one of my books. It's an absolute blast to read my stories to kids. I imagine a race car driver winning the Indy 500 feels pretty wonderful. I'm sure the Giants enjoyed going to Disney World after thumping the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Achieving such a pinnacle is spectacular. But…those feelings fade. Pretty soon, there's another race. Or training camp starts. I love to write. LOVE TO WRITE!!! And I've achieved a measure of success. I've been on bestseller lists. I've sold over 100,000 books. I've been on the front page of the Washington Post and on National TV. But in the most candid analysis: it was fun, but it still doesn't totally satisfy. I wonder what it takes to get to the next level and sell millions of books. I wonder if a movie deal is just what I need. But, I have a very certain feeling that even should I sell more books than a certain tussle-haired-wizard-boy, I still won't actually be self actualized. Because, maybe to get that popular, I'd need to shun my family. Maybe my teaching would suffer. Maybe in the end, it would feel somewhat hollow or even painful.

But (and this is the greater point) even if I reached the peak of my profession without hurting people along the way, the exultation--the satisfaction--will fade. I feel sure it will. Why else do we so often read about some highly successful person suffering from depression or admitting himself to a rehab clinic?

Maslow's needs are real. I don't think we can argue that we do not actually feel such needs. But I believe that we ALL need something more. Something greater. Something, in fact, that is flawless.

More next time.


Galactic Overlord-In-Chief said...

I think people who attempt to climb the ladder of what they see is their potential without a proper grounding in who they are spiritually are asking for trouble. Particularly these past few years, with people who literally have all the money they could ever want, all the pleasure at their fingertips and every material desire available to them, and yet they end up as complete basketcases like Britney Spears. You wonder what happened to them. If you base your happiness on the adultation of others, not only will you keep feeling hollow, but you will also not hear what you need to hear. Elvis would still be with us today if someone had told him to stop with the drugs and lose some weight rather than saying "Yes sir" to him all the time.

So without the proper spiritual grounding, you won't know how to enjoy and handle this other stuff.

- Jason

everlastingscribe said...

Interesting thoughts, I think I have an idea where you are going with this but I'm going to reserve further comment until I see the whole thing laid out. So far ;) I agree.

Anonymous said...

I love to write to and I have been working on a story for about a month now. It still is not done I still have a long ways to go. Does anyone have some advice for me?


Anonymous said...

So true galactic overlord! Most people aren't satisfied with their life and are reaching out to the wrong things.

***Flinn-fan-of-the-Twins*** said...

My greatest need has been met. I have my name written in the Book of Life. It saddens me to watch all these celebrities going about their business, soaking up the praise and adoration of millions: and then dying and going into an eternity with no hope. Take the recently deceased Heath Ledger for instance. It's just sad. If my book is ever published, or if I ever make it to Hollywood, I hope I don't forsake my family, friends, or most importantly my King.

***Flinn-fan-of-the-Twins*** said...

And to anonymous, don't feel bad. I've been writing a book for 10 months and have only reached the tenth chapter! And it took Mr. Batson 15 years, if I am correct, to write The Door Within Trilogy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Flin


Anonymous said...

I am also sad the paths of some of the people in this world. At my youth group we rent out a school gym and all most of the kids there are only there for the games and free items. When they inturupt the message or or goofing around I almost cry because I know where they are going. I know I need to help them but if my pastor could'nt even help them then what am I to help? These same people go to my school and they also anoy the teachers and other classmates. I just hope something big in there life changes somehow were they will turn their faith towards christ.


WayneThomasBatson said...

Hey, EP

You wrote: "I know I need to help them but if my pastor could'nt even help them then what am I to help? These same people go to my school and they also anoy the teachers and other classmates."

I totally feel for you. But there's a lot you can do. Begin with prayer. Pray for these kids. Pray that Jesus would invade their lives by whatever means necessary. Pray that they could see beyond the crud and baggage we all carry.

Also, remember, your pastor can't save them. You can't save them. You love them any way you can. You live a life that shows Jesus to anyone who looks, and then you trust God to do the real work.

You may be one of the seeds God brings to fruition down the road.

Never alone.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Wayne