- Teaching the Gospel to Children: Foster Intimacy, part 1
This is the third post in a series meant to be preceded by an introductory letter. Please read that here.
“Daring greatly means the courage to be vulnerable. It means to show up and be seen. To ask for what you need. To talk about how you’re feeling. To have the hard conversations.” ~ Brene Brown
“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13: 12
“The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.” ~ Mister Rogers
I took a psychology class in high school in which, among other things, we studied Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Perhaps you know it? It’s illustrated as a pyramid stratifying needs for human thriving.
I’m not sure where Abraham Maslow’s work stands today in the world of psychological theory, but his pyramid makes some sense to me. At the base: physiological needs. They must be met. A starving child will die no matter how much her devastated mother loves her. A person must eat, sleep, be clothed and sheltered in order to live.
The next level is the need for safety. In order to thrive, a person requires a measure of security and stability. We all do better with a fundamental freedom from fear.
Third is the need for love and belonging. This goes beyond mere walls and protection. This is what we hope to get from a home.
Interestingly, the home that protects us physically, that provides shelter from the elements and a secure residence, actually opens us to vulnerability in a new way, one based on proximity. We live with each other. We know one another’s weaknesses.
And this is why Maslow’s third level, love and belonging, makes sense to me as such. Within the physical safety of the home, one is safer still if one is loved.
Vulnerability and Love
The desire to be loved is fundamental.
And, in that context, the need to be known is essential. After all, if someone says they love you but they don’t really know you, then they love a projection, an idea, a notion of you. They can’t really love you at all.
So in order to be loved, we must be known, which means we must be vulnerable.
Again, a home and a family naturally provide us with some measure of vulnerability. Mere proximity exposes us–and our weaknesses. We know whose shoes stink and who farted during the movie, who scares easily and who gags at the thought of tomatoes.
What we want and need is to be safe within that vulnerability.
Sure, we could hide our shoes and avoid tomatoes, but how much better to be welcomed into the house along with our stinky shoes because we are so much loved and wanted at home that the shoes don’t really matter?
Being known and loved for who we are: that’s what we long for.