But the greatest of these is love.
Gary Chapman wrote The Five Love Languages. This book is one of the helpful ways to have meaningful conversations about love. (Please don’t judge this book by its cover! And if you’d like to roll your eyes, I’m with you.) The five love languages are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Giving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
If you’re not familiar with them, you can read more about them here.
Of course we are capable of all five, but most likely you’ll have a primary one and maybe a secondary one. I took this free quiz in preparation for this article (note: you can take it for a child and they have separate quizzes for married and single folks). It was of no surprise that my main love language was words of affirmation and physical touch got, um, zero. It’s not that I’m single and not having sex, it’s that anyone can touch anyone; but if you SAY something, now that’s special :). Touch, though wonderful and enjoyable and I make sure I’m touched enough as a single (massages, hugs, cuddles with kids), is not all that and a bag of chips.
Clearly words are my language!
Guess what was second?
Acts of service!
I’d be willing to bet that as a group, we cross-cultural workers tend to rank higher in acts of service than the general population.
Other than being interesting, why spend time talking about love languages? Really, it has nothing to do with Valentines’ Day on Saturday, it has to do with this week’s theme of language. In the famous love passage of 1 Corinthians, Paul is pretty clear that what we do or say does not matter nearly as much as the spirit with which it is done. We talk, and rightly so, about wanting to communicate The Good News in a person’s heart language.
Here’s the thing, we have two heart languages: a language of words and a language of emotional connection. And here’s the funny thing: God is going to call Words of Affirmation people to Gifts cultures or vice versa. He knows and speaks all variations of love. He wires us, gifts us and then, out of mercy that at times feels anything but, he expands us. Though I think my love languages haven’t radically changed over the years, I can see how they have been shaped and influenced by:
- Your passport country — I truly apologize to all my British friends for speaking of love so freely. I do not mean to make you squirm and if you only knew how often I catch myself and don’t speak of it … you might be truly horrified.
- Your country of service – What a relief as a not-so-into touching person to live in a relatively non-touching culture (except on public transportation. Aiya!). But then it turns out gift giving is important and meals could go on forever and ever and ever and ever. Oh my cow, how much small talk can you make while nibbling on peanuts? I’m a words of affirmation person, not a words of chit-chat. But I learned and it takes me less time than it used to to die to a “productive” afternoon.
- Your stage of life – I don’t care what your love language is, if you’ve got young children, you’re going to be touched and whether it’s quality time or not, it’s certainly quantity time. I’d love to hear from our older members, but with so many cultures valuing the elderly do you find you’re being touched more as the years go by in the name of helping you?
- Your family and teammates – As much as I might appear to be a people person, I’m more a task person. But thanks to teammates over the years who are quality time people, I have become a better teammate and friend as I’ve learned to sit after a meal and chat. I am convinced God puts us in families with people who are so different from us to show us he values relationships more than sameness. Niece #4 talks and talks and talks and has an introverted mother. Cue the heavenly laugh track. Cue the heavenly love track.
God so loved the world that he gave us his son Jesus who touched people, spoke words of affirmation, served them, spent quality time and gave gifts. It was out of love he gave. It is out of love God wants us to give, not out of duty (though duty isn’t bad).
I love that love will last forever.
What’s your love language? How’s it in sync from your country of service? Where is it different? Do you have teammates or kids or friends with really different love languages? How do you love them all without burning out? When is it OK to “not” love someone in their language? So many questions …
Photo Source : Refe