5-Love Languages, Jesus, You and the Love Your Heart Needs

A number of years ago Gary Chapman wrote a book all about love. In this book he said each person alive had at least one way they both show and express love, he referred to that as their love language. Since love speaks to each of us individually it made sense. It made a lot of sense to a lot of people.

As per my usual zany ways, I wasn’t really gung-ho to read the book. First of all, it wasn’t a novel and I was sure all non-fiction books were boring. And second of all, everyone else was reading it and oOoOoOoOoOhing and aAaAaAaAaAhing it to death. I’m too much of a non-conformist to readily want to read anything the whole world is raving about.

It took me a number of years to read it, in fact I only read it when we were out of town at a marriage retreat and a friend of ours shared that it had revolutionized his marriage. “We must get this book, Mr. Fullcup!” I exclaimed.

He agreed and so we did.

We read it out-loud together and tried to guess which languages each other spoke (him: Acts of Service, me: gifts and time). We took it on ourselves to meet those deep love needs and keep each others love-tanks full.

Yeah. That lasted about 3 days and then we were back to squeezing the toothpaste tube in the middle, being late, and in general not doing anything to speak love to each other. We weren’t mean we just stopped focusing on this one area and lived life. We stopped asking if love tanks were full and what could be done to fill them.

We knew each of us was trying to meet the needs and so would say, “Yep! I’m good!” all the while choking on the sawdust in the bottom of the bucket.  Now we don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t talk about it. We just choose, for whatever reason, not to think about it.

Jesus has recently been directing my thoughts back to the whole idea of Love languages. (If you’re not familiar with them, or would like a refresher, they are: Acts of Service, Touch, Gifts, Time, and Words of Affirmation.) And not in the way you might expect. Or want. Or be crazy about. Because as is my normal, it’s bound to make waves.

Love Languages –  at first glance is a great book. But a deeper inspection reveals that it isn’t a Biblical book. The 5-Love Languages is a book that tells us we all have God-given ways we feel love and acceptance from others, and that we can only love from a full tank. So it is my responsibility to meet your love need in your love language and to teach you to meet mine in my language.  It is your responsibility to soak up the love and meet my need for love from your full tank. (That I filled. All by my own big girl self.)

But only – it isn’t. When I do this, I am doing nothing more than using you to meet my needs, which makes you my god, because whoever or whatever I look to to meet my needs becomes my god, and that, my dearest reader, is nothing more than idolatry.

Jesus is the onliest only One I (and you) should be looking to for those needs. Man simply was not designed to meet them.

Yes, man does love, but not of their own ability. Both the love and the ability to love comes from Jesus. (Oh I’m going to get mail about that comment. But hear me out, in 1 John we read in a couple of places that God IS love. He personifies love and without Him there is no love. Lust, yes. Love, no.)

We are commanded to love one another, but not to meet their needs. Jesus meets them. Human love to and from us is just the frosting on the cupcake of life. Freely and lavishly given from a heart that is fully loved and free. The loved heart –  the one who knows it is loved by Jesus (that need it met) can freely and without strings love another and it just happens. We can’t help it. Jesus loves because He IS Love personified.

We each are hardwired by God to need love, it is what drives us and drives us to Him. He meets each of these heart needs with Himself. What greater act of service is there than the cross? What greater gift than grace? Or the death of His Own Son? What could be better than walking on earth for 33 years with us? What could be better than the time He spends with each of us each time we call on His name?  What greater words could He say to affirm us than, “I have called you friends”?  What could possibly be better than having the God who created everything and hung the stars in place, speaks to and touches your heart in a million different ways?

He is so intimate with each of us. Meeting our every need. Meeting our greatest need with Himself.

 

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A Nickel’s Worth

DSC_0155 (1)I’ve been noticing a trend lately amongst my friends. They’re all looking for something. But not just any old something, something in particular. Every time they find what they are looking for they eagerly take a picture and share it across social media lines.

Just what is this thing they are looking for so almost frantically?

Hearts. A simple heart shape in the world around them. Some of them call the hearts they find glimpses of God’s love for them.

Now I’m a non-conformist to the core. If everyone else is doing something, that’s a good enough reason to me to not do it. I just don’t want to do or be like everyone else.

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I’m also if nothing else a study in contrast. You see I think it’s neat and great that these ladies are finding God smiles in their day. Neat. And if I were to speak the truth, which I am, I’m a bit jealous. I want something from God, something that He gives to just me as a reminder that He, as it says in Psalm 32:8, has His eye on me. That as He promises in Job 23:10 He knows the way I take.  So I want the same thing He is giving to these ladies, but I don’t want a heart shape.

So I’ve taken the past few weeks to as I think about it, pray for Him to give me something special, unique to let me know He’s watching, He knows, He cares and He loves me. I haven’t wanted a heart shaped anything because that would be too conformist for me. I want my own shape.

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A couple of weeks ago I was having an especially hard week when I glanced down in a parking lot and saw a nickel. I’ve always been one to pick up loose change I see lying around and this day was no different. I picked up that nickel and immediately I had the most godly thought ever. Yeah, or not as the case really was.

My first thought was exactly what zany thing I was going to post on social media about finding a nickel.

“If the saying goes, ‘Find a penny, pick it up, and all day you’ll have good luck’, what happens if you find a nickel.”

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I thought nothing more about that found nickel.

Until today.

This morning I walked to get coffee and to spend some time reading and talking with Jesus. I took Ann Voskamp’s book, The Broken Way, and read while I walked. I did stop on occasion to underline an especially meaningful part, or to just write down some thoughts Jesus was giving me.

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The wind was blowing  cold bitter air over my bare fingers but His words warmed my heart.  We talked of such things as where I was a year ago. How much has changed in this past year. 365 days of walking with Him. A year ago today I was in a hard place. Today I’m in a harder place, but the difference is while last year I knew intellectually He was with me, today in this hard-hard place I know experientially that He really is with me.

It was easy to stop and underline on the way to the coffee, but once I purchased my coffee and had headed for home it was a bit more difficult.

A few blocks from the shop I stopped to underline a sentence, I moved off the sidewalk, and squatted down on a small piece of concrete just off the beaten path. I set my coffee down, unzipped my pocket, reached in to grab my pen, and I froze.

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There in the grass was another nickel. Of course I picked it up.

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And I heard God laugh. Not a “haha, jokes on you” laugh. But a genuine chuckle. Like He knew something I didn’t, but He knew it would bless my socks off.

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And then He spoke.

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He spoke to me. He spoke to me clean through my frozen fingers as they caressed that found nickel. He spoke clean down the marrow my very soul.

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“That’s your gift. That’s your sign. That’s your shape. That is your way of knowing I’m watching you. I’ve got my eye on you. I see you. Even when you think I’m hiding. Even when everything in you is speaking lies that I don’t care. I’m watching you.”

 

 

Birthdays And Sunny Days

They both make me incredibly happy. Especially when, with the former, I ignore that fact that I’m starting a stare down with the half-century mark.

Okay, yes, it is a few years away still, but in the words of Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, “But it’s out there!”

Have you read The Five Love Languages by Gary Smalley? He explains how each person has (generally) one dominant way in which they both feel and express love. Some people are as he explains, bi-lingual, in that they speak two different love languages.

Gifts and time are my languages. One of them I’d love to exchange.

The Gifts one.

I know with all of them you’re asking people to give you something (love) but gifts…when you’re a child it’s to be expected. When you’re in a stare down with a half-century of life on planet earth, most people think you’re crazy. I hear from a lot of people, “Just stop talking about it.” and “Oh! You just want everything don’t you?” or “You’re the one who always wants gifts.”

So I decide to take a vow of silence on all things gift.

Then my love tank takes a dive and I’m left feeling alone, unloved, unworthy. I know I’m not. I’m not blaming anyone for those feelings. They’re a lie.

But God, in His infinite wisdom, has hardwired each of us to have at least one love language. By His design, we are like this.

I can’t change the way I’m wired. I can’t exchange one language for another. The more thought I give it, I realize I don’t even know which one I would change it to.

Touch. Yeah, this is so not me. I’m not quite as out there as a friend from my college days who made me stand on one side of her and a cousin (of hers) stand on the other side when we’d get in a circle and join hands to pray. We only held pinkies. But there are so many, many times that I want to shout, “If you love me you won’t touch me!”  The hard part about this is, my 12-year old has touch as her love language.

Acts of Service.  I find that when people start doing things for me, I start to feel entitled. And incredibly lazy. Both of which I hate. I wish I would feel loved instead.

Words of Affirmation. This one is super. I know I can always use a few more “attagirl” and the warm, fuzzy feelings I get when I hear them. But they aren’t necessary to my emotional health. I need them, you need them, everyone needs them.

I’ve really come to the conclusion that we all need all of them. We all need gifts, time, touch, acts of service, and words of affirmation. But we need one more than the others.

This is totally not what I had intended to blog about today. But apparently this is what was inside.

Love

I am a gift person. I just love them. Gifts speak love to me. Often when Mr. FullCup comes home with a shopping bag I’m positive it’s something for me.

Usually it’s his dirty lunch dishes.

Which are for me. But not quite what I was expecting, if you know what I mean.

You are never going to guess what greeted me this morning as I prepared to work in the church office.

Never in a million years.

So I’ll tell you….

20150109_093945Do you have any idea what those are?

Buckeyes!

Not the football team. The chocolate and peanut butter balls.

Oh my soul.

Now I’ve been eating very clean for a lot of time. I ate all ten of these luscious goodness filled  morsels one right after the other.  I told the giver, “Peanut butter and chocolate…my weakness.

I will now commence with the flopping, the flipping and the all things dying.

But I will die a happy girl.

This reminds me of working in Missouri and telling a friend I’d do anything for Pringles. I would too. I love them. I was soon going to be transferring departments and her husband was going to be my new boss. The next morning on my desk was a full container of Pringles.

As I was contemplating this I kept hearing in my head all the people who would sit and judge me for eating chocolate and peanut butter. Full of garbage and sugar. Sugar and garbage.

I almost felt the need to defend myself, and almost talked myself out of posting it, or at least honestly posting it. I thought about just posting the picture and not saying I ate them.

Why?

Why do I allow what I think others will say, or think or how they will judge as me being less affect my happiness and joy? Why?

Why do we?

As for me, the rest of the day I’ll be focusing on the gift and the giver, and plotting ways to pilfer more buckeyes.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like….

Christmas.

And it’s not just the decorating, the parties, the tree and the tinsel.

Oh no. It’s more than just those.

It’s the almost frantic running hither and yon, yon and hither. The last minute rememberings.  The choir practices, the Christmas pageants.

And I’m pretty much ready.

But it’s not that either. It’s not the almost frantic rushing, the things to remember, the gifts to buy, the practices and pageants…

It’s so much more.  I’ll have to expound later…because the church staff Christmas party is tonight.

At my house.

So I’ve really got to rush and clean the paint off the cabinets from painting last week. Finish the bread. Make the mashed potatoes, the ham.

Aaaannnnnddddd there’s the timer…..

So I’ll leave you with a picture I took this morning of my morning and let you ponder this thought that has been eating away at my little grey cells for the past few days,

Why not focus on the gifts?

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Focus on the Gifts

Yesterday I received an early Christmas gift, those of you who know me well know I opened it yesterday too. You would be incredibly surprised to know though that I really debated not opening it, but placing it under the tree until Christmas.

But I didn’t do that.

This gift means I may never drink coffee anyplace other than my own home.

I’ve been a coffee lover now far longer than I wasn’t. I’ve been consuming it since I was the tender age of 18. At first I drank a little coffee with my cream and sugar. Now I prefer it “blacker than a thousand midnights down in a cypress swamp.”

And that, my friends, is very dark, very dark indeed.

The coffee brews incredibly smooth and goes down easy. I drink more water than I drink coffee, but this coffee maker could change all that. With this machine, I’m betting I could drink coffee all day long and forget about water.

This morning I was again reading in One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. She is talking about trust in the chapter I’m on..slowing plowing my way through. (I actually should say I’m plodding my way through.) I’m not going to lie, I have some pretty hefty trust issues.

I do. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true.

Too many times though we count the hard things of life, those things that happen to cause us to think we need to have hefty trust issues–struggles we’ve gone through, tragedies we’ve encountered, abuses we’ve suffered, and asked “Why should I trust in God? Why should I rely on Him? What has He ever done for me? What has He done for me lately?”

But that focus is wrong.

It’s not the bad things that should change our focus. It’s not the bad things we should look on as a reason to trust.

Our focus must be on the blessings:

  • the sun coming up…again,
  • the heart that continues to beat,
  • the lungs that still fill with oxygen,
  • grace that is still heaped upon grace,
  • His great mercy that we are not condemned,

When we wake up again to hope, hope that today is a better day–that is why are to trust Him

I choose my focus.

Focus on the bad, and all of life is terrible. God is mean and untrustworthy. An old curmudgeon. A killjoy. Not worth my time or my breath or my effort.

BUT:

Focus on the minute by minute, second by second gifts He freely gives and we have a reason to hope, a reason to trust.

Life’s hard things, it’s rocks and stones we all have thrown at us, those things don’t negate the goodness and the blessings of God.

No, my hard-hearted disbelief in His goodness does.