A while ago, I spent some time studying Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs, which basically states that each individual goes through psychological stages of growth.
Here is the basic run-down:
The bottom two levels (red and orange) are considered deficiency needs and Maslow has suggested that until those needs are met, the individual cannot strongly desire, or have motivation to truly move up to the higher levels (yellow, green, and purple) known as the growth needs (or in other words, constant betterment). For a more detailed overview you can go to this article .
Why do I care? Because as I was researching it, it occurred to me that over the last decade of my marriage, my husband and I had been literally fighting to survive in the bottom two areas (see ** note below) but the Lord asks, expects, and requires us to be working on the higher levels. It’s a strange dichotomy, and yet I shouldn’t be surprised because growth at all stages of life is vital to our becoming people greater than we are or to put it another way, to be Beings like our Savior (see 1 John 3:2 and The Challenge to Become, Elder Oaks).
An example of this is found when missionaries teach the principle of tithing to impoverished people. Why do they teach it? Because new members are expected to live it, even in their poverty. Why?
- To become like the Lord
- To develop trust and faith
- To see miracles
- To gain spiritual power
All of those things I have witnessed in my own life and I have seen others witness the same as a direct result of living the law of tithing. I suppose it’s all part of spiritual resistance training! We are to rise above even when it is difficult because we have issues in the bottom two pyramid steps.
I think that we can see that example in the account of the Savior sleeping in the ship as the storm and waves were tossing it about. I’ve always wondered about that account. The disciples are fearing for their lives (not safe – on the bottom of the pyramid) and they wake the Lord saying “Carest thou not that we perish?” or in other words. “Seriously, Lord? You’re going to allow this to happen? I thought that you made promises to me, and this will NOT help fulfill those promises!”
The Savior wakes, calms the storm, and then asks them where their faith is. That account always bothered me before because they were afraid. They were in a perilous condition. But wait – let’s try to look at it from God’s point of view for a moment.
They are on the ship with the Savior. He, and they have been called to do some very specific work. He had been providing for their needs in the very moment. They had been witnessing miracles of healing, physical wonders, doctrine, and spirit that testified to them of His calling and power which (not coincidentally) carried over to their specific callings. Would Father allow that ship to sink? Would the Son of Man have been sent merely to drown in a moment without fulfilling the future work of salvation desperately needed for all of Father’s children?
Perhaps the storm was needed – the rain fall providing much needed water to the desert. Or, perhaps providing a moment in which the men could have sought a blessing from Father in Heaven through prayer, thus deepening their faith.
Whatever the reasons, they were expected to continue in faith, in their present situation, cheerfully doing all in their power to bring about much righteousness.
It almost seems harsh. In practicality it seems impossible. And yet, we have been told that “Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever (Doc. & Cov. 122:9).” We’ve also been told to “consider the lilies of the field,” that if the Lord clothes the lilies and the grass, how much more will He clothe us if we are not of little faith (Matt. 6:28,30). And he’s asked us to trust, that if the Lord has asked you (or me) to perform a work for Him, that He will provide means, and power, and supply to accomplish it.
We’re also allowed to ask for help and miracles to be able to do the work that we’re called to do. “My Shepherd will supply my needs,” so I can work in the higher parts of the pyramid and bless mankind, even in my lowly, and desperate, and impoverished state. After all, the Savior did that and He asks no less than that we follow Him.
**To understand in detail what I mean, I recommend the article I wrote in the book “I Can Do Hard Things with God, chapter 17 – Spouse’s Mental Illness: You’re Bi-Polar, so Why Am I the One Going Crazy?”