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!