Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Love is a Language

My love language is acts of service. I must be a minority because no one in my life speaks my language, fluently. For some reason, I am surrounded by people who need and love words.

[If you have never read Gary Chapman's theory on love languages, do it! Understanding the five languages - service, time, touch, words, and gifts - will provide incredible insight to your relationships]

Apart from God's radical love for us, the reason Ben and I have such a rich marriage is because we've learned to love each other in the way that is most meaningful to each of us. While Ben appreciates my mad house management skills, clean sheets on our bed is not the way to communicate my heart to him - even though that's how I want him to love me back. He clings to affirmation. He needs to hear that his muscles are huge and that his heart of compassion makes my heart flippity-flop. It's not natural for me to love him with words, but I try {like it's my job} because I don't ever want him to wonder.

This topic has been weaving its way through many of our conversations, lately, because the fight for attention in our house has wrestled itself to the surface in some pretty ugly ways (most of which end in a phone call from the school).

As I prayed for insight, it became pretty clear...we were not loving the older boys in ways they felt it best.

We were able to identify Ty and LJ's languages right away, because it's how they show love to us. Ty craves and often asks for one-on-one time, while LJ wants physical contact around the clock. I'm pretty sure he would be happiest if he could go through life holding my hand or riding my back like a baby chimp. Ty is an old soul who loves to sip hot cocoa in his robe, discussing the happenings of his day and asking all the questions that sparked his curiosity along the way. LJ wants to tackle any family member that will take it and give breath-sucking hugs. God help us when he notices girls.

Francisco is much more mysterious and because his heart is so good and gentle, he is the one most likely to get lost in the shadows. He's not loud or stubborn or confrontational and takes life in quiet stride. One night we just asked him...When do you feel the most loved? Is it when you come home and find an unexpected gift waiting? Reading little notes left in your lunch? Family movie nights?

He thought for a few minutes and said, "Maybe when I stay in the kitchen with dad, while he's doing dishes, and everyone else leaves?"

It was sort of a question statement, but revealed the sincerity of his heart.

Several days later, Francisco and I were working on a puzzle together. The kind you wish you had never started. 1500 pieces and for every two pieces you connect, there are twenty obstructing your success, without apology. Just as I was ready to quit for the night, very quietly - with no fanfare - Francisco said, "Mom, this is how I feel loved...sitting here, doing puzzles with you."

I smiled back and whispered it was the best part of my day.

Just like that, he handed me the keys to his heart. Nearly every day, this week, I made it a priority to sit down with him, even if only for a few minutes, and we cursed the puzzle together. He doesn't say much while we work, but every time he finds a match he whoops and hollers and calls for an air-five.

It is super hard to follow-through with intentions and easy to let all-the-things-we-should-be-doing burden our hearts. It's okay if we miss a night of reading or swap devotionals for dancing or ditch showers for star-gazing. It's all okay.

Our life is a circus. For real. And so much of our day is prescribed, but when I take the time to love my people in the languages they understand, I know I'm winning.

And they're winning, too, because they know they matter.


  1. Oh, how your post hits home. As a mom of 3 kids with ADHD and some ASD characteristics, there are so many tasks that need executive functioning support. Tonight, I feel like I want to love my kids in their love languages, but I feel weary too. I so want to help their paths be less rocky and for it to be possible for them to succeed. Finding time to nurture their hearts needs to be a priority, but I always feel I am dropping one ball or another.

    1. It is so hard. We say no to most things and stick close to home, but we still don't have enough time in the day to do it all. It reassures me to think about my upbringing and that I only remember handfuls of details from my young life. If our kids know love - like feel it in there bones - the rest will work itself out.

  2. Rebekah, So sweet and so touching. I imagine my daughter and son-in-law and their daily struggle to do the things you discuss above with my 5 grandchildren. I know it's got to be hard. I was there night before last and it was my daughters 39th birthday. Jim, my SIL was at ball practice with the boys (13 and 11) and Stephanie had just gotten home with the girls (9,7 and 4). It was past the youngest bedtime and time for the girls to go to bed. Teeth brushing and pjs later I went upstairs to put them to bed. It was prayers and kisses and hugs and laughter. The 2 oldest share a bedroom and the 4 year old is by herself. I hug and kiss them the number of times of their ages. Ha Ha! it was a competition up to about 100 hugs and kisses before I got back downstairs. I can only imagine what it's like at your house. I'm blessed to live 5 minutes away from them. You are such a wonderful and special Mom! Ben is a wonderful and special Dad! Much love to you both! Dawn

    1. How wonderful that you are so close! My mother-in-law is a precious gift. She, too, only lives 5 minutes away!

  3. I think I say this every single time I comment, but I really do love your heart. I love how you humbly admit you are not perfect, while letting the light of Jesus shine brightly through you. I only wish I lived closer to you, because I'd totally want to be your IRL friend.

  4. ❤ I would love to be your IRL friend! If we can't be real with one another, what good are we?