There is an old allegory about people sitting around a banquet table full of delicious food. The problem is they are dying of hunger because their arms have been transformed into long spoons. These utensils are so long that the people cannot reach their own mouths. They slowly begin to starve as they struggle endlessly to get food to their mouths using their own “arms.” Never does it occur to them that the solution is simply to feed each other.
Being human is tricky. We all want desperately to be loved and seen for who we really are – to know that we have worth and are valued. The problem is that we heavily depend on each other to communicate these messages. In life you need, at your core, a strong sense of who you are based on your own beliefs and convictions. But we are also designed to need love and to give love to each other. We were made to feed each other.
Sadly some people are so self-consumed that they only focus on getting this need met for themselves – and they often starve in the process. Others realize the importance of giving and receiving but fail to see the importance of giving specifically to the need of the other person. Truth is, we tend to give what we want. But what if the person we love can’t “digest” what we give them because they need a different kind of loving expression. We can feed them all day, but if they don’t get the “nutrition” they need – they will not thrive.
This is where the work of Gary Chapman and The 5 Love Languages becomes so useful and profoundly helpful. Chapman has created an easy way to understand the 5 general love languages that people use. He helps you to understand what it is your heart most desires – what you are hungry for and what you need to feel satisfied and healthy. He also helps you learn what your spouse or children need so that you can give the specific kind of love they most desire. His work has helped me tremendously and has encouraged me to be a better wife and mother by loving more deliberately and specifically.
Let’s take a look at the 5 Love Languages as defined by Gary Chapman.
Words of Affirmation – This language uses words to affirm other people.
If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
Acts Of Service – For these people actions speak louder than words.
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
Receiving Gifts – For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift.
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.
Quality Time – This language is about giving a person your undivided attention.
For this person nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
Physical Touch – To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch.
This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.
What do you think your love language is? Can you guess what it would be for your spouse or children? Have you ever considered it? What if you could love people in a way that would consistently touch their hearts and meet their needs? What if you could feel more satisfied in your own life because you knew your love language and could encourage others to love you in that way? All this is possible. The answers are easy to discover. Take a few minutes right now and go to The 5 Love Languages website. (click here when you are ready) There is a wonderful free test that will help you determine what language you speak. There are specific tests for men, women, and children. On the main page under the five circles you will see “~ Discover Your Love Language ~ click here to begin.” Allow 10 – 15 minutes to answer the questions. You will be given 30 pairs of statements – just click the one that best represents your desire. Most people have a primary language and then one or two secondary languages.
Next week, we will delve deeper into this topic in “part 2” of The 5 Love Languages. Come back and learn a little more about how to “feed” the people in your life who you love. There is so much Goodness in being deliberate and intentional in the way we love. There is also untold Goodness in knowing the needs of our own hearts.
Share this with you family and help everyone learn their Love Language!
What is your Love Language? Find out here.