Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Knowing God loves you...

The other day, the kids were talking about the five Love Languages. (These come from Gary Chapman in his book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That LastsTheir Sunday School teacher had talked about the many aspects of God's love and human love, and had included a little about these, which my kids found fascinating.)

So we were all talking about what their love languages might be, comparing different things that mean the most to them, etc.

My oldest seems totally confident that hers is quality time, and I think she's right. She seemed able to quickly identify other people in the family who also loved quality time as well...I guess she'd grown good at noticing which people were always eager to spend time with her and only needed someone to point out what this meant about her.

My son is a little harder, as almost all of them seem to fit him quite strongly. I suspect that receiving gifts is one of his for two reasons, though. One, every gift anyone gives him is "my favorite" and "what I always wanted!" I'm not kidding...every single one, even if he never thought of wanting it. And he sees no reason why he can't have lots and lots of favorites. He's not pretentious about it...his face glows with simple pleasure and appreciation over any gift, no matter how small. And two, it really, really bothers him when someone he loves has a birthday or celebration and he doesn't have a gift to give them. I mean, it seriously bothers him, even if no one else gave gifts and the person insists over and over again that just a hug or seeing him is a gift. But it makes sense, doesn't it? The things that make us feel loved are the things that we naturally turn to when we want to show love as well.

My youngest... well, none of them seemed to fit her! She's just not very demonstrative, so it's hard to know what really means the most to her. So I started asking her either/or questions in an attempt to find out what meant the most to her.

And that's when a new thought occurred to me.

Do our love languages affect our relationship with God? Do they, perhaps, affect which scriptures mean the most to us? Do they affect how we attempt to show our love for God?

I thought about my two primary love languages, words of affirmation and physical touch, and I can definitely see a connection. I love scriptures that tell me how God sees me...that tell me who I am in Christ. Furthermore, I feel closest to God when I am worshiping--telling Him what He means to me. I thought about how physical touch isn't something we can share with an invisible God, but then I thought of something that almost made me laugh at myself. For as long as I can remember, when I'm hurting or struggling or feeling a desperate need for God's comfort, peace, or faithfulness, guess what I've always done? I close my eyes and envision myself crawling up on the lap of my Heavenly Father and curling up in His arms. Time and time again, that is where I go to be comforted, where His touch wraps me in love.

I think I'm going to dedicate my next five posts to these five love languages and discover scriptures in which God shows His love for us in all five ways. I'm not really sure what I will discover, but the prospect excites me. If nothing else, it will show me which scriptures are likely to speak the most clearly to my own children.

In the meantime, if you're not familiar with the five love languages, I'll ask you a very simple question to give you a general idea of what they're about. Basically, different expressions of love mean more or less to different people. Understanding what means the most to you and those you love and why can help our communication skills.

Think of the person who means the most to you in life...your spouse, your mother, etc. Now imagine that they do (or would do) these five things for you, totally voluntarily, with no ulterior motives or external pressures or considerations. Imagine that they just do them because they want to, because they care about you.

Which would be hardest for you to give up? Rate them, if you like.
1) Telling you how much you mean to them and what they admire about you.
2) Spending the day with you, just hanging out together wherever it is the two of you like to hang out.
3) Surprising you with little gifts every so often, just to show you they were thinking about you.
4) Helping you with tasks, like doing dishes or making dinner for you when you're tired, or going out of their way to bring you a hot meal on the job.
5) Giving you a hug when you meet, wrapping an arm around you when you need to cry on someone's shoulder, resting a sympathetic hand on your arm when you feel alone. In the case of your spouse, holding your hand in an gentle but active grip rather than a limp unconscious one, or wrapping his/her arms around you.

Number One reflects Words of Affirmation.
Number Two reflects Quality Time.
Number Three reflects Receiving Gifts.
Number Four reflects Acts of Service.
Number Five reflects Physical Touch.

Me... I could care less about receiving gifts, and it really doesn't take much time with someone for me to feel like I've connected with them. But do NOT ask me to give up hearing the simple words, "Good job!" And if my husband goes a day or two without wrapping his arms around me, I seriously start wondering if something's wrong! ::smiles:: On the other hand, there is nothing my husband rates more highly than when I chose to accompany him on an otherwise boring and meaningless trip to the hardware store. It took me years to figure out why it hurt him so much when I said I didn't particularly want to go with him to buy plumbing parts.

If you'd like to read more about the five love languages, as identified and explained by Gary Chapman, you can do that on his website. Or, you can take a free mini-test on this website.

This turned out to be 9 posts. Continue to post 2.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time, in a land far away, two knights were sent forth by their king. Each knight pledged an oath of loyalty to the other, to stand by them and to even die for other, if necessary.

These two knights were relatively inexperienced when they left on their first mission, but as time went by, they grew more and more experienced in battle. They learned to work as a team, cheering each other on when a battle arose during which only one could fight. When the first knight fell, the second picked him up. When the second grew tired and weak, the first brought food and stood guard while he slept.

The enemy saw this and realized that these two knights, together, were many times stronger than either would be alone. Worse yet, their strength would only multiply as time went by. So he began to look for ways to drive them apart.

He sent his best warriors in a vicious attack, designed to drive them apart then conquer each individually. But the knights saw through the plan and stood back to back. The enemy failed.

Next he sent one of his most stealthy spies, disguised as a decorated knight of the good king. He did not attack them, but merely let them admire the gemstones in his sword, see ribbons and favors on his arm, and hear of his victories. And indeed, the second knight couldn't help but be impressed by this glorious warrior. But when the spy produced a false missive, declaring that he was to leave the first knight and partner with him for a new mission, the second knight recognized the spy for what he was. He remembered his oath of loyalty to the first, and did not leave his side.

The enemy grew desperate, and that's when he devised his most devious scheme. He called off all outright attacks, and he sent a warrior, disguised as a peasant, with a simple mission. When the two knights were walking through the village, he was to hit the first knight in such a way that his arm would hit the second.

"Ouch! Why did you hit me?" the second exclaimed.

"Forgive me, please. It was not done on purpose. Someone hit my arm, and I was not able to keep it from hitting you," the first replied as he rubbed his elbow, whereupon the second forgot his own pain and began rubbing ointment on the first's wound.

The enemy watched but did not abandon his plan. Again and again, he sent his spies on the same mission, and each time the strike was harder. Then came the day he eagerly awaited.

"Ouch!" the second exclaimed for the sixtieth time.

"Forgive me," the first again begged. "I am trying to keep my arm out of the way when the crowds press against me."

"You should have figured it out by now," the second snapped. "I've got a scar, you've struck me so many times."

"I don't mean to hurt you," the first replied apologetically.

"Well you are," said the first. And they began to walk a little farther apart.

The enemy doubled his stealthy assault, attacking both, sometimes simultaneously. By now, either knight could have easily seen that the attacks were more than just the confusion of the crowds, yet they did not. They were too busy nursing their own injuries and guarding themselves against each other. Indeed, they had totally forgotten that there was another enemy to guard against.

When the knights went to the king with their problem, they grumbled because he said the same thing he had always said: they must forgive each other and remain strong in their vow of loyalty, helping each other.

It was not long before the enemy dared what he never could before. His warrior attacked the first knight, severing his arm completely, and sending his sword right into the second knight's side.

Both fell to the ground bleeding and gasping in pain.

"Look what you've done now!" the second cried.

The first looked, and the pain in his arm was doubled by the knowledge that he had dealt such a terrible blow to one who had once been his dearest friend. He hung his head in shame as the second struggled to his feet. He felt his friend's eyes upon him, and he dared to hope that he might do something for his arm, for he could not on his own. Yet when the second walked away, he did not blame him. He deserved no less, for he had not helped his friend in a long time.

The enemy smiled to see his success and launched a full-scale attack on his victims.


We are these knights. That knight you are paired up with is your spouse. And the devil knows that the surest way of dividing you is to trick one of you into hurting the other.

Sometimes our spouse knows he or she is hurting us, yet cannot find the strength to stop. Other times they are completely unaware. Still other times they cannot comprehend why something hurts us, when it does not hurt them. And so we begin to withhold forgiveness and distance ourselves.

God gave me this little story months ago. I pray that it will affect you the way it did me...that the next time you are in pain from something your spouse has done, you will ask God to open your eyes, that you may see the attack for what it really is.

And pray.
Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion