Many of us know or have heard about the five love languages1 for us and our relationships with each other. The process of reading about, discovering, perhaps even engaging in friendly discussions with our loved ones about, and filling out the questionnaire to determine which of the five languages best describe us is very interesting. At the end of the day, we get to determine (or at least be guided in thinking about) how we (as mortals) show our love to and for others, AND perhaps even more importantly whether we are actually aware of the most effective way that our spouses and/or family members want to be shown love. Because after all, we understand a language (how we interpret love being shown to us) and we speak2 a language (how we think we show love to others), and so does everyone else, but sometimes we may not even be saying or hearing the same things.
For a quick summary; if a persons love language is receiving gifts, they tend to equate receiving a gift with love very easily (meaning they understand that the person who gave them a gift must be showing them love), but if that person is told (words of affirmation) of their worth, perhaps hugged (physical touch), accompanied on a walk (quality time) by their significant other, or service (dishes, laundry, etc.) is performed on their behalf (acts of service) they may have harder time identifying that particular act with being shown love. They may view it as something entirely different such as duty, or perhaps not even notice it at all despite the intent from the giver of the act or words. In the same light, that same person may have a tendency to give gifts to loved ones in a very real effort to show love, because they readily identify with that language – even if their love language isn’t the same. This can lead to confusion because one individual is very clearly showing love, but the one they are showing love to has a completely different idea of what that demonstration should be. If I speak the language of quality time, words of affirmation won’t seem to do the trick, or if I feel love by physical touch, I doubt gifts or acts of service will carry the same weight.
Suddenly, the confusion at the tower of Babel seems pretty familiar, at least until the people who were (or are) involved identify that they are likely saying the same thing, just in a language that has been confounded.4 So, the responsible parties (those who are trying to communicate with each other) are left to either find common ground (helpful), learn everyone else’s language (best option) or forever be presented with a problem ‘such as is common to man’3 (and by man I mean mankind, not the male gender).
Before moving forward I wish to express my feelings that none of us are limited to a single love language. While it may be true or generally prevalent thought that we have a primary love language, I am not one to limit ourselves with a singular language. I think that we are capable of understanding a lot more about love with a bit of understanding and maybe some effort on our part. I also think that by understanding more about all of the love languages, and making a sincere effort to identify with, appreciate, and even attempt to recreate them it makes a better communicator (obviously), and therefore more capable of both giving and receiving love in various ways. This, in the end is the goal. Love.5
This knowledge became an understanding for me recently, because I was able to apply this to (by apply I mean retroactively think about and identify with) a real life situation. Since that understanding, I thought to share this thought, even though most if not all of the people who will read this post will say something like “no duh. Tyson just informed me of something that I have known for so long, that I don’t even remember learning it.”
Part 1 of my awareness: Christmas just passed, and I was thinking about all the ‘gifts’ that I gave and all the gifts that I received, and I started to wonder how those gifts that I had given were received by those to whom they’d been given.
Part 2 of my awareness: I have been thinking about some situations that are less than ideal6 involving people that I love (which includes me – which is why I used the word involved). Situations could mean a variety of things, including words, actions, thoughts, assumptions, etc. which provide the all too frequent opportunity for discussion, discomfort, awkwardness, concern, terror, fear and maybe even anger or forgiveness.
As I was thinking about these two things, I started to understand some things at the same time:
1) I get answers to my problems (and everyone else’s) 7 in life through books (reading, studying, etc.). Or at least, that’s how I get most of the way through the problems. I read, then I read some more, and then I keep reading. Then when I’m done, I compare it with what I’ve read. That’s MY love language.
2) I try to give other people the solutions to their problems by speaking my language to them. This was a sobering fact for me, and one that I was able to see very clearly (after it was too late), and this was very much based on my previous understanding (which is probably better termed a reinforced confirmation because I mostly knew it already).
As I was reflecting on the gifts that I had given last year, and as I was thinking of what to get those that I love most, guess what kept popping into my head…..yep, books. I wanted to give everyone books (I did last year). What I intend in this gift is that these are literally stacks of gold. Golden objects that contain the answers to all the questions and that speak the language of love. They have the ability to answer all the questions and solve all your problems. I had carefully selected books that I knew would provide critical clarity to a particular issue – because I had found what I thought they needed there. But, what I did not realize is that I was speaking the wrong language to them. It was as if I were babbling in some strange tongue while they were looking at me and nodding with a smile and thinking to themselves…”wow, a book. I hate reading. Thanks Tyson” (this is further insight into the story I shared here).
The connection is a simple scripture passage, and one that I feel ties this whole thing together. Especially when we try to understand that the language of love can be spoken and therefore heard, and it can be shown and therefore felt, and if we are honest, the language of love can be demonstrated in an infinite number of different ways, because the way that we feel love or receive love can and will be just as varied. But, there is someone who can, does, and will speak every single love language, and this is critical because as it says in scripture (especially referring to words/actions/etc. as empowered by the holy ghost) that “every man heard them speak in his own language”.8
This means that regardless of what my love language is, the spirit speaks to me in that language, because that’s the language I understand, and because the Lord and the spirit know this, they continue to speak to me in that language. And what’s even better is the scripture says that particular language, the one I hear, it’s “my own language”. It is my own language, and I love it. I speak it. I feel it. I read it. I hear it. I know it. I absorb it. I know the difference in intonations and inflections; I know about past participles and dangling prepositions. I know the seemingly conflicting rules of grammar and I know the difference between their, there, and they’re. I know and recognize different accents, meanings, contexts, and intentions. It’s ‘my’ language. I don’t know these things because I studied or learned them all – I just know them because ‘it’s my language’. It’s how the spirit speaks to me. It’s how the Lord communicates with me. It’s ‘my’9 language of love and I can promise you that there isn’t anyone else who speaks ‘my’ language. We all get our own, and the common denominator is the spirit. When we understand this – the phrase ‘love languages’ fits perfectly, because that’s exactly what true communion with deity is – love. A love so deep and so intense that he mastered every single language just so that he could be the most effective at demonstrating it to me. Just me, and just you. We could say that He IS this language. This is an amazing idea.
Now, on to the morals of this story:
- Let us be ever so grateful that the Lord and the spirit speak ‘our own’ love language perfectly, and speak to us and show us love via that language – in a way that is super effective if and when we recognize it.
- Let us try harder to recognize the language that others speak (this is not easy) – especially because sometimes we can’t just ask them what it is.That is part of the challenge and responsibility we have as their loved ones – to find it out in order to best serve and love them. Remember that this love, this pure love, “suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, … beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things”. 10
Let us seek to hear and speak and feel and show this love, to share this love, and to become this love.
1 The five love languages are identified as follows: Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Acts of Service as outlined by Gary Chapman in his book “The 5 Love Languages, The Secret to Love That Lasts’.
2 Even though languages are typically spoken, I will likely use ‘feel’ in place of ‘hear’ or ‘speak’ and their various relatives at different points, just because it is hard to ‘hear’ or speak any of the languages except for words of affirmation. Other uses for ‘hearing/speaking’ a language may also include ‘show’.
3 See Gen. 11:4-9
4 1 Cor. 10:13
5 While this word, it’s meaning, and the infinite depths that we could explore to find applicable notes are many, a few will suffice; they include 1) “Charity” with all of it’s implications, requirements, and power and 2) “God is Love”, and 3) “All you need is love” (The Beatles, and perhaps more definitively and explicitly it’s variation “Love is all you need” as phrased by Pearl Jam).
6 ‘Less that ideal’ is a nice way to say ‘broken, strained, lacking completion, or even a bit uncomfortable’.
7 This is not to assume that I actually have the answers for anyone else except me – but that doesn’t stop me from trying to solve everybody else’s problems. After all, it’s easy for me to see the motes that are in other people’s eyes, exactly what they need to remove them, and which methods and equipment would be best suited for that purpose. Please realize I understand full well that both of my eyes are overflowing with beams.
8 See Acts 2:1-6
9 Please note my same feelings here (that I don’t feel any of us are limited to a single love language). While it may be true that ‘my own’ language is absolutely my primary language, I think that we are capable of understanding a lot more about love when we understand it’s true meaning in multiple languages. This can be proved by those who speak multiple languages, especially those from which the scriptures have been translated, and when those who speak multiple languages compare translations to better understand intent, context, etc. This idea is furthered and confirmed when we think of scriptures, parables, types, shadows, similitudes, etc. since there is much more being relayed than just the words and if we don’t understand all of the languages that are being spoken/written, we will miss out.
10 Moroni 7:45 (see also 1 Cor. 13:4-7)