Learning My Love Language

I just finished reading The Five Love Languages Singles Edition, which is one of those books talked about amongst Christian circles. I have to admit, I was skeptical of reading it, because I thought it sounded gimicky. Single Christians I know would always ask each other, “What’s your love language?” which sounded as trivial as, “What’s your sign?” I was pretty convinced this was just some Christian fad.

But in my ever-growing hunger for knowledge — especially on the topic of relationships — I figured I would have to familiarize myself with the 5 love languages at some point. So I got the book this week and finished it moments ago.

I admit I was wrong. This turned out to be an important book that I believe all people should read. Not only will it help you in your romantic relationships, but with all relationships in general (family, coworkers, friends).

Similar to secular self-help books that say everyone has a preferred “sense” in which they tend to communicate best (e.g., visual, audible, tactile), Gary Chapman — the book’s author — suggests that everyone gives and receives love in one of 5 ways (read: love languages). These five languages are…

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Gifts
  3. Acts of Service
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

Should you not recognize the love language of your romantic partner, friend, or colleague, you risk building conflict in the relationship through their perceived lack of love coming from you. If the way you choose to show love and appreciation is not the way the person wants or is capable of feeling love, then your efforts are in vain.

For example, if the other person’s love language is Words of Affirmation, all of your sacrificial service or gift-giving is not going to make up for the lack of verbal affirmation the person craves. Likewise, if the other person’s love language is Quality Time, then all of the encouraging emails and bouquets of flowers aren’t going to make up for the lack of love they perceive from the little quality time you spend together.

Right away, I knew what my weakest areas of showing love were… Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. For most of my life, I was very distant in my relationships with other people. I was distant verbally (didn’t often talk, much less provide encouragement to other people), and I was distant physically (wasn’t much of a hugger). And I certainly didn’t like to do acts of service — not even service that acted in my own interest, not to mention others’ interests.

If I was good at any of these languages, it was gift-giving (I love to give stuff away) and quality time (I love to spend time with the people I love).

As it turns out, my primary love language is Quality Time. I both love to give and receive quality time with those I love. I can’t think of a better way to experience the love of another person than having the chance to hang out with that person for long periods of time.

Secondarily, I think I also respond well to Words of Affirmation. I’m not totally convinced about that, as I tell myself I don’t care what other people think of me or what I do — but I’m sure much of that is bravado, and that I really do appreciate it when others publicly appreciate me.

Aside: If someone wanted to make me feel unloved, all that person would need to do is stop hanging out or communicating with me. (Can’t help but laugh at this, given my recent personal circumstances. It explains so much.)

The challenge for me is learning to identify the love languages of other people, then using their love languages to communicate my love and appreciation for them. As I said earlier, I have a lot of work to do in certain areas. The biggest of which I think is Words of Affirmation. I’ve grown up with and around such cynical, critical people that it’s hard for me to say something encouraging to someone without sounding disingenuous to myself. That’s just something I’ll have to get over.

Opposites Attract

There are a lot of cliches spoken everyday that we take for truth — or situational truths that may be apt for certain circumstances. Ever wonder which of these sayings is true?

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Out of sight, out of mind.

Both can be said to justify specific circumstances, but both cannot in fact be absolutely true.

Another apparent paradox exists with these sayings…

Birds of a feather flock together.
Opposites attract.

I say “apparent” because while these both can apply to dating, they can also apply to friendships with the same sex, etc.

However, when it comes to finding a potential spouse, should you be looking for someone who is very much like you (in personality, interests, talents, vocation, and calling?), or should you look for an opposite?

I have never heard concrete, biblical guidance on this subject. But thanks to a book I just finished and the expository commentary of John MacArthur, I discovered this evening that we should, indeed, be looking for an opposite. Seriously, it’s in the Bible.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
– Genesis 2:18

According to Dr. Don Raunikar in his book Choosing God’s Best, “The Hebrew word translated ‘suitable’ literally means ‘opposite.’ God’s plan is to bring us a mate who can support us where we are weak and fill in the gaps where our own lives have holes.”

John MacArthur confirms this interpretation in his study Bible: “The words of this verse emphasize man’s need for a companion, a helper, and an equal. He was incomplete without someone to complement him in fulfilling the task of filling, multiplying, and taking dominion over the earth. This points to Adam’s inadequacy, not Eve’s insufficiency. Woman was made by God to meet man’s deficiency.”

So, someone like me shouldn’t be looking for someone who is identical to me — someone who has the same personality traits and interests. I should be looking for someone who would make a good companion and be strong in the areas that I am weak.

This brings up another cliche, though… You complete me. You always hear that you should not be trying to find someone to “complete” you, as you will be codependent. But what’s wrong with codependency? Is that not how God designed marriage? For two people to become one & depend on each other?

After my reading tonight, I no longer fear pursuing someone who is different from me.

Embarrassing Divorce Stat

AskMen (a totally secular publication) just released a story about 5 things you didn’t know about divorce. The first thing listed is this stat, which should make all evangelical Christians embarassed…

1- Born-again Christians have the highest divorce rate
The first thing you didn’t know about divorce is that some predictors of divorce need to be shouted from the mountain top.

A study by Barna Research Group found that the 33% divorce rate among born-again Christians, or evangelicals, was the highest among Christian denominations. Not surprisingly, these results met with a flood of criticism, much of which raised one of the most disputed questions in this field: What is the biggest predictor of divorce among the broader population, the most common of all the common denominators?

The answer generally depends on who you ask, but two predictors frequently mentioned are first, age at marriage and second, income — notably, couples under age 20 with an income under $25,000 have a very high risk of divorcing. Throw in a pregnancy, and they’re pretty much doomed.

Things Christians should learn from this… Marrying young is a recipe for a failed marriage. You should wait until you’re sure of your calling (ministry & vocation), and wait until you’re financially and emotionally stable enough to support a family.

Church Singles Groups

I’ve had a lot of exposure to a singles group lately, which I don’t attend, but have friends who do. I won’t mention the name of this group, but if you’re close to the situation, you can probably figure it out. I actually attended this group for a brief stint several years ago, but never connected with anyone there. I never thought the environment was truly very friendly.

The problem with singles groups is that whatever the group hopes to accomplish, the ultimate reason most people are there is to meet someone to date/marry. Whatever spiritual, outward-focused goals the group may have, the members have an overriding selfish goal for being there.

If the attendees were truly there for worship, then they would go to the normal church service. But they’re there to meet potential mates.

I noticed that the dynamics are different for the men and women who attend. The women, while still inwardly competing with one another, find strength in numbers. They huddle and form strong friendships with the other single women. This makes them a large pack and actually less approachable — which is ironic, because I assume they want to be approached.

The men, on the other hand, view all the other men as competition and want nothing to do with building close friendships with any of them. Depending on how desperate they are, they may give a token pleasantry to the other guys if cornered into a conversation, but some will be downright rude to you, if they see you as worthy competition.

Social times at these meetings closely resemble a situation in wildlife, where the lions (men) cirlce a pack of gazelles (women), in search of their prey. Since the women have formed these tight packs, it’s harder for the men to find a target. But when a gazelle breaks away from the pack, then several lions immediately descend on her.

I met several guys this weekend, who attend this group, and with one notable exception (a very friendly guy named Leo), most of the men seemed very reluctant to make my acquaintance. Instead of being greeted with a warm handshake, I was metaphorically peed upon by the “dominant” males.

Now I’m the last person to compete over a woman, and when I find myself in those situations, I’m totally content to walk away and wait to cross paths with another person not wrapped up in such dynamics. But I’m still fascinated to see such primitive behavior on display within modern day interactions.

I’ve concluded this weekend that it’s good that I’m not involved in this group and will stop going to their social functions.

It’s not that I’m not looking to meet my own potential mate. I would just like to do so while serving God in ministry. I don’t want to go to a meeting/event solely designed for the purpose of meeting someone. I want to meet someone through service — someone who shares my calling for evangelism and communication through new media. The only way I’m going to meet someone like that is by doing those things and seeing who I meet in the process.

Who are the true Christians?

I had a conversation with a friend last night about whether or not she believed a close friend was saved. She said he claimed to be saved, but wanted nothing to do with God — that he was already saved, so he didn’t need to change his life to follow Jesus or subject himself to God’s law or Jesus’ lordship. While I certainly can’t see into a person’s heart, the Bible for sure provides guidance in evaluating the state of your own heart and those of others. Far be it from me to judge another’s heart. I’ll let the Bible do that for me…

For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. – Luke 6:43-44a

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. – Galatians 5:19-23a

So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. – James 2:17

Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. … As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. – Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. – 1 John 1:19

If you love Me, you will keep my commandments. – John 14:15