Given that it is the week of Valentine’s Day it seemed an appropriate time to talk about love languages. For those who may not have heard about Dr. Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages” here is a quick summary. All people have ways they most deeply experience love. Per his research, these types fall into five categories including acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, gift giving and physical touch. For most people, one or two of these are the most satisfying.
Dr. Chapman found that many couples are “mismatched” in their love languages and thus “misfire” as they try to care for one another in ways that do not make sense to their spouse. It’s a powerful concept for relationships. If you want to know more about your own love language you can find those resources here: https://www.5lovelanguages.com/
Early on in our relationship, the future hubby and I were definitely mismatched. I was heavily words of affirmation and he was acts of service. I would shower him with praise when what he really wanted was help with his laundry. He would offer to help me with things when all I really wanted was an “atta’ girl” for doing it on my own. We kept trying to love each other in our own ways, missing out on the intimacy that eventually came from learning the other’s “language.”
Well, twelve and a half years into marriage it finally hit me. While I have spent years applying this concept with my earthly husband I have totally and completely forgotten to do so with my Heavenly one. Oh, what a game changer this thought has been.
In a relationship with Jesus, communication is obviously not called “love languages” but is instead referred to as “spiritual disciplines.” This is the (kind of boring sounding) umbrella term for practices such as prayer, worship, fasting, reading the Bible, service, solitude, meditation, etc. These practices allow us to express and receive love and grow in our relationship with Him. And, just as with love languages, there are some practices we tend to gravitate toward because they are “easier” for us or make more “sense.”
If I had to pick my “spiritual love languages” I would guess they are reading the Bible and solitude. I am immensely satisfied when given time alone to read, digest and think. However, I have to remember that God is not limited in His languages. He is equally and fully present in all of them. If I don’t spend time developing an ability to worship Him in those other ways I am missing out on a more complete and intimate relationship with Him. Spending my life experiencing only a portion of the God who loves me? No thank you!
In order to get to know more of God, we have to challenge ourselves to experience Him in ways that are harder for us to understand. We have to spend time learning to speak other “languages” and give ourselves the grace to know it is going to take a while to become fluent. If you are a Scripture person, keep doing that but be intentional about spending time in prayer, even if it feels awkward and your mind chases rabbits. If you are worship person, great, keep on singing but also get into the Word even if it doesn’t totally make sense at first. If you enjoy solitude, take time alone but remember that service may grow your spiritual muscles in a way that you may never have anticipated. When we grow in the ways we can hear Him I suspect we may catch what He is saying more often.
Happy Valentine’s Day with the Savior my friend. I hope that you get to hear Him say “I love you” in a whole new way.