When we go to church on Sunday, we take up an entire aisle. Between our family and my brother's family we fill 10 seats (with two babies in the nursery). Yep, an aisle. While it's true that we adults are completely outnumbered, it is a true blessing to see our kiddos sitting together (sometimes in the same chair if we're short a seat), sharing their Bibles (searching together for the verses being read) and giggling about whatever strikes their funny-bones. Which is apparently a lot. But it's even sweeter to see them loving on each other. This past weekend, the 11-year old was holding the 7 year-old (silly girls!) and my 4 year-old was hugging her 4 year-old cousin as they swayed to the music. Loving snuggles ... even during the singing at church.
Watching my Ashley cuddle with her cousin, I had to giggle, but it also solidified to me that my young daughter's love language is most definitely Physical Touch. Today we will continue with our topic of Dr. Gary Chapman's "5 Love Languages" ... beginning with Ashley's love of choice.
My sweetie loves to hold hands, play with my hair and is happiest to be on my hip or lap. One of my favorite snapshots that I hope I will never forget is seeing my baby girls holding hands while they ride side-by-side in our double stroller. Ashley will reach across the divider and take little Liddy's hand in hers and stroke her little fingers with her thumb ... such tender touch. I'm quite certain that this is also why Ashley is having such a terrible time giving up her thumb-sucking ... even this type of touch is comforting to her. When Ashley is upset (too tired, feeling under-the-weather or feeling grumpy) sometimes the only comfort is a cuddle with Mommy or Daddy. You can talk, talk, talk ... but a hug is what she really needs.
In light of this being Ashley's love language, we have had to be careful with how we discipline her. While we have used spanking with the older kids for serious offenses, for Ashley a swat is almost too much. We have found that a verbal reprimand is usually enough. Or perhaps it's just the time in the rocking chair awaiting her correction ... the waiting is the worst part! :)
This love language also happens to be my husband's. He is reassured of my love when I pat his back as I walk by, sit close to him on the couch and reach over and rub his neck while he's driving. All these little actions speak loudly to Brett about his value and importance. Likewise, if I walk by him without reaching out to touch his shoulder, he feels a bit neglected. If I'm frustrated or distracted and withhold touch from Brett, it's like a cold breeze blowing through our friendship ... brrrrrr!
Fortunately, I also like physical touch and so this is a relatively easy love language to "speak". A few warm snuggles, encouraging back pats and taking time to hold hands proves to my husband and daughter my undeniable love and affection for them ... and I get some warm-fuzzies, too!
The fourth love language to talk about is Acts of Service. I initially thought that this was Brett's primary love language because he is such a servant. As it turns out, service is definitely part of his make-up, but it's more of his spiritual gifting, rather than his love language. He also grew up in a family where service was valued and so he learned the importance of service by seeing that modeled in his parents. So while he is a professional server :) this isn't necessarily how he shows and receives love.
For my neighbor, on the other hand, service is most certainly how she perceives love and value. She bends over backwards and spends herself (almost to empty) in her service to others: family, friends and her community. In the same way, she feels loved when she is served and helped. Sometimes her need is big (opening our home up to her kids), sometimes her need is small (a bag of ice) ... but both speak to her that she is valuable and important. For my friend, her love-tank is filled when someone spends energy and time in serving her.
In the same way, for people whose love language is service, they can feel very un-loved if they are un-served. By forgetting to do something you say you will do (taking out the trash, stopping by the grocery on the way home, ironing a shirt for work) you may be inadvertently telling that person that they are not important or valuable. Fortunately, we can quickly remedy the situation by doing something for that person ... and saying, "Sorry", of course!
So ... have you found your love language yet? Do you feel valued when you receive a note in the mail or perhaps a pat on the back? Do you show love in service or spending quality time? We have one more to look at tomorrow: Gifts. I'm sure you'll find yourself in there somewhere!
Then once we have all the facts ... we'll take on the challenge of putting our love to the test!