“…each one heard their own language being spoken…
Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?””
(Acts 2: 6b,12)
Years ago, when we were still newlyweds, a good friend gave us a book that would prove to be (to this day) the single greatest tool in our marital toolbox.
The book is The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman.
Laura and I have led marriage retreats using this book as a primary resource. But more important than that, we have visited (and revisited) the principles of this book time and again, to nurture and enrich our own marriage over the years.
In a nutshell, Chapman suggests that we all learn how to express and receive love in a variety of five different “languages.” In no particular order, the five love languages are: Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, and Quality Time.
Words of Affirmation:
This language uses words to affirm other people. For some, words are not that important. For others, it is the primary way of feeling valued, accepted, loved. Whether in the form of a compliment: “Wow, you really look great in that sweater,” or through the simple “I love you,” spoken in a timely and genuine manner, for some people, words fill the heart with reassurance and love.
To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch. Whether through the closeness of sexual intimacy, or the simple reassurance of hugs, kisses and holding hands, many feel most loved, when love is expressed physically.
Acts of Service:
For these people, actions speak louder than words. For many, keeping the oil changed in the car, making sure the dishes are done, taking the garbage out, etc, are not just mundane tasks. Rather, they are deliberate expressions of affection, acts of service performed out of love and care for the other.
For some people, what makes them feel most loved is receiving gifts. The gifts do not have to be ornate or expensive. But the bouquet of flowers (on no occasion) or the book (just because) can convey a simple, yet profound expression of value to the person receiving the gift. It says, I was thinking of you.
This language is about giving the other person your undivided attention. For some, love is best known, felt, experienced by simply being in the company of one another. Whether around a shared activity (going on a walk or run), or simply veg’ing out together in front of the fire, many need this uninterrupted, unrushed time together in order to feel loved.
Now, here’s the trick.
The objective in understanding the Five Love Languages is NOT in simply identifying which language is YOUR primary language. It is simply not enough to know that you are one who feels most loved through words, or touch, or any of the others…etc. The primary objective (and challenge) is to understand your spouse’s primary language. Once you understand your spouse’s primary language, then comes the adventure of learning how to speak THAT language, so that (s)he hears, receives and understands the love you are trying to express. The same principle applies to loving your children, your siblings, your co-workers, neighbors and friends.
What does that have to do with Advent, with Christmas and the coming of this Baby?
In the birth of Jesus, love becomes spoken in every language.
Words of Affirmation?
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
“The word became flesh and dwelt among us. We beheld his glory…”(John 1:14).
“We declare to you what we have seen…what we have heard…what we have touched…” (1 John 1:1).
Acts of Service?
“God demonstrates God’s love for us in this: that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
“…to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. (Ephesians 1:6-8)
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
In Jesus Christ, God has lavished us with every speakable kind of love.
Love in every language is fluently spoken, in the Beloved.
God, teach me how to understand and embrace the uniqueness of others,
so that through me, your multilingual love may be fluently spoken.
Johns Creek Baptist Church
If you and Laura decide to lead a marriage enrichment retreat, John and I would be interested.