Monthly Archives: August 2011
Three simple words.
For some people, like myself, it’s easy to say. Granted, I don’t let them fly off to just anyone; just to those I deeply care about (i.e. parents, siblings, extended family, close girlfriends). But for others, it’s harder to say. It may be shown in weird, odd ways through actions or services done, but to a person who doesn’t really hear actions and thrives on words of affirmation, touch or quality time, it’s easy to miss. Those three little words followed by a light touch on the shoulder brightened my day the last time my parents came to visit.
My parents both speak their affection in different ways. It comes easier for my mom than it does my dad. When he says I love you along with a brief touch, I need to hang on to that with all that I am and cherish it; storing it up as a treasure within my heart. It doesn’t happen often and, when it does, I’m rocked to the core of my soul. I’m sure some of you can relate.
I’m not saying that he doesn’t show that he loves me or that I don’t think he does. I know he does. It’s when a person sets aside themselves (becomes selfless) for five seconds and speaks my love language that has that huge affect on an individual person. It’s beautiful. It’s intricate. And it’s how God created me.
I recently finished reading through Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages for the second time. Why keep rereading it, you ask? First, the book serves as a great reminder that we were all created differently. Second, something different hits me each time I pick up an old book because I’ve changed. People speak and hear that you care about/love them in different ways.
The book introduces five different love languages: through words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. We are not all affected the same by each language. Where you may see acts of service or gifts as a tell-tale sign that someone loves you, other may simple need a hug and hear encouraging words from those that love them.
When it comes to words of affirmation, actions don’t always speak louder than words. Unsolicited compliments and words of encouragement mean the world to this individual. Hearing the words I love you are important and hearing the reasons why sends spirits soaring. Negative words such as insults or a harsh breakdown of what you’re doing wrong leave the person shattered and are not easily forgotten.
Concerning the definition of quality time, nothing says a person loves you like full, undivided attention. Truly being there for that person is critical. This could mean turning the TV off, setting the utensils down, or putting everything on standby and giving that person your undivided attention. Failure to do so can be especially hurtful. But there is a less intense side to this love language as well. For instance, a friend of mine has this language as one of her top three. She doesn’t need undivided attention at all times. It’s enough for you to be there for her, whether that be through watching a movie, hanging out and just talking (or really talking), taking that shopping trip with her or even taking her out to eat on her birthday. There isn’t anything too intense about that.
We shouldn’t mistake the love language of receiving gifts for materialism. The receiver of that gift thrives on the love, thoughtfulness and effort behind each gift they receive. For instance, the rings I wear on my right ring finger isn’t just another ring to add to my non-growing collection. The first was given to me by my parents on my 13th birthday as a sign that I was now becoming a young woman. I wasn’t a kid anymore. The other, a simple, thin silver band (probably titanium due to the fact that it doesn’t bend), was given to me by a woman who’s life my own life had touched while on a summer mission project to Wildwood, NJ. I had touched another human life by loving her the way Christ did and showing that she could have that same hope in her life. I was deeply touched and my heart still aches to know what became of her every day.
Can washing a pile of dirty dishes really be an expression of love? Absolutely! My grandmother comes to mind when I think of this gift. She speaks it well! My mother on the other hand, needs it spoken to her. And this makes it such a blessing when my grandmother or I come to visit. Work gets done! LOL…Anything you can do for this type of person helps to ease their burden and they know that you love them.
And physical touch is not all about the bedroom. This person is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder or face speak volumes in terms of love. I’m a huggy (hug-needy…I’m not referring to diapers, people) person. I love to be hugged.
It’s not just enough to discover what our personal love languages are, but we must also learn to speak all five in order to relate properly to everyone. We may not perfect them, but we can learn to love our families and friends the right way by learning these. For instance, my grandmother speaks in acts of service to those she loves. She’s constantly looking for something to do when you’re the one who asked her to come over (essentially, with you being the hostess). In return, she seeks quality time with those she loves. I’ve been known to just invite myself over (as long as she’s free) some evenings just to hang out. We’ll watch movies, talk about nothing in particular, and laugh over some of the things this crazy world has done.
How about you? Have you discovered your love language? Try it on the link in the post above.
I have discovered that mine have changed over the last three years. I’ve learned that I’m a touchy feely kind of person (even though I still don’t see myself that way). I’ve learned that a hug and a few words given with a little bit of someone’s time mean more to me than any errand run, table cleared or a new appliance ever could. I’ve also learned that I speak those same languages easily. Now, if I could only nail down the other two…kidding! 🙂
Know that you are loved!
Summer is quickly drawing to a close. The last few months stretch behind me; their days full of heat and humidity. I can’t help but compare that to my own spiritual life.
Life comes in seasons and they are not all that different from the four that we experience here in Minnesota.
Each one is different than the last and even more different from its counterpart the year before. This year, for example, we didn’t truly have a spring. Late winter blossomed into a full-fledged summer over night, or so it seemed.
Spring brings with it new growth and splashes of vibrant color. Spring is when everything that was once asleep or dormant breathes back to life. I picture a new Christian or one coming out of a spiritually dry spell and into an intensely growing season. It’s a period of transition. The new believer begins to see vibrant color through Christ and as their roots begin to run deeper and deeper in Him; their branches begin to bud and spring forth life that pours into every other part of their life, leaving no stone unturned. For the believer coming out of a deep, dormant winter, their roots begin to tingle with life. God splashes color onto the canvas of their lives, much like the new believer’s; as He begins growing them in areas they hadn’t imagined before. Spring brings the beginning of growth and the sense of discovery.
Summer, long, hot and humid as it may be, continues that growth process although parts of it may be harder to endure (especially when the temperature is scorching). I remember my father’s corn growing to be over 7 feet tall during the summer and you could swear each stalk would grow a couple of inches during summer’s hottest and most humid days. It’s much like that in that Christian’s walk too. I’m still feeling the burn of my growth these past few months even though I know that He’s just getting started. During those hot and intense moments, God is able to stretch and mold us even further into what He desires and knows us to be.
Fall is like the mosaic of the seasons’ entirety; the final product, if you will. The harvest God has planted in you and around you must be reaped for His glory.
Winter, although dormant, brings with it peace and rest. I tend to think that winter can bring healing while everything lays dormant, waiting for the sun’s rays to become warm and bring everything back to life again. And that it’s a time for reflection; to reflect on the seasons past; on the growth period you’ve just come through. What did God do in your life? It also has some very, very cold days. Those days are those when it seems God is distant (although He never is). Those are the days when we feel the most alone; the most vulnerable. Something may have been stripped away and we’re left, open for the world to see and we can’t see how God could be using this season for anything good.
Each season has a different length. Minnesota winters can last from three to six months out of the year…and sometimes it feels like nine. The winter of the soul can last years. Mine did. There was a period of five years where I didn’t feel as if I was growing as immensely as I wanted to, and yet I was…in patience. I’ve spent three days in spring only to dive, head first into summer for several months, only to be surrounded by winter, once again.
In God, there is a season for everything. A season to wake up. A season to begin to grow and come to life. A season to grow immensely. A season to reap and be harvested. A season be barren. A season…to die. And those seasons don’t necessarily come in the same order as they do year in and year out here on earth. I’ve jumped from Summer to Winter in the breadth of a few days, skipping fall all together.
It may be summer’s end in Minnesota, but spiritually, summer’s just beginning. What season are you in?
Not having the full-fledged support of one’s family is hard. Personally, I never thought I would live to see the day when this would happen in my own family. We had always been a close bunch and still are, for the most part.
When I was first asked if I would pick up everything and move to Minneapolis for the glory of God and His Kingdom, I thought my parents would be all for it. But several members were not. They thought I should be getting paid for the position I would hold when all it would require of me was one to two nights of practice per week and my weekends (according to them). They had forgotten to mention the daily living that plays a huge part in leading worship/being up front. I’m not called to live my life the way God wants me to for an hour or two every Sunday and then sporadically pop up during the week at Bible studies, group gatherings and service opportunities like a submarine and then live however I choose to during the week. That’s not right; nor does it sit right with me. And it goes for everyone.
But that didn’t make the comments sting any less.
I thank my God that He gave me a strong will and desire to do what He called me to do. I also thank Him for giving me a strong family of brothers and sisters in Him who are there to build me up when I am weak/down and who are there to correct me when I begin to stray.
Recently, I attended a service at a church where the sermon evolved around being the me I was called to be. Part of the pastor’s point had been how family can hold us back. He pointed out how families with welfare stay in that program, generation after generation. He pointed out how individuals who attempt to rise above their means get cut down, rather than built up. I couldn’t help but remember how mine had attempted to do just that.
He made an example out of Jacob. How generation after generation in his family had a tendency to lie. How Abraham lied about Sarah being his wife. How Isaac did the same thing with Rebekah. How Jacob lied to Isaac to obtain the blessing and then traded soup with Esau for the birthrite. And, finally, how Laban deceived Jacob by giving him Leah, his firstborn daughter, over Rachel, the woman he loved and wanted for his own.
Sin can come back, tenfold, years later. It affects all involved and more.
I don’t want that to happen with me. I want to live for change and cause greater than myself. I want to live for Christ and His calling on my life. I want to hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
A year ago, I honestly didn’t think I would be sitting here, typing up blog material in Minneapolis, MN and thinking about our new church.
A year ago, I was sitting at the Rock County fairgrounds in Luverne, MN, watching my brother complete his last year in 4-H.
Today, I’m packing my bags for the six hour trek to Yankton SD for a family reunion. I used to live closer…
A year ago, I was training my new boss at work; a rather odd position to be in.
Today, I’m learning new things at my current job.
A year ago, I was contemplating on how to break the news to my employer that I would be leaving.
Today, I’ve left that job behind.
A year ago, I was imagining what life would be like in Minneapolis and was contemplating when to start my job search. Would mid-fall suffice? Or should I wait until after the holidays?
Today, I’m thankful that I waited until after the holidays, although job hunting during a Minnesota winter was not my brightest idea.
A year ago, I was planning a concert at my home church, along with a donation speech for the Vine. My mind was boggled down with production ideas on how the set list should flow, dress details, scriptures, how the stage and foyer should be set up/decorated, and who would sing each part. And more importantly, where would the Vine fit in?
Today, I, along with several other individuals, give to the Vine…both financially and physically. I couldn’t imagine having it any other way.
A year ago, I had no idea what God had in store for this church. All I knew was that we planned to start…(not sure what)…in the spring of 2011.
Today, the planning process is under way. We are growing and are set to launch in spring of next year sometime.
God is good!