Have you ever been in a position where you realized that someone else’s expression of love with you was not how you normally receive love? Have you ever been off put because your act of expressing love was not received the way you intended?
It was many months ago that I was listening to the radio and heard about “love language.” According to Gary Chapman, there are 5 Love Languages and I’m not surprised that, after taking the online quiz, my love languages ranked as follows (with highest score being a 12): Physical touch – 10, Words of affirmation – 9, Quality time – 6, Acts of service – 4, and Receiving gifts -1.
One day last week I had the pleasure of giving hugs to two people outside of my family and shaking hands with another one. One of the hugs is with a woman whom I consider a very good friend and another was with a woman who I had only previously met once on a project I’m working on. Both are very sweet women and I undoubtedly believe them to speak love with physical touch as well. These weren’t just passing hugs either but clearly an exchange of affection… not just something done because one feels obligated to or in a showy kind of fashion.
I often write about how it is impossible to receive love unless you share of yourself (share your own love). This is true not just in the Christian religion but in any religion where there is an exchange of energy. We cannot expect to receive love unless we give love… and further, sometimes this receipt of love is not instantaneous or sent to us the same way we send it. For example, you see by my Love Language test results that my love language is Physical touch or Words of affirmation (someone telling me they love me or why they think I’m special) so that is how I, by default, am comfortable expressing my love. However, that may not be how someone I care about needs to receive love OR how I’m going to receive it back. For example, I would venture to guess that my husband’s love language is through Acts of Service – meaning, he would feel love from me if I did things for him/with him or helped him out with something. So while I’m sitting in my corner wondering why my husband isn’t hugging or kissing me all the while I’m watching him DO things for me, he’s sitting over in his corner wondering why I’m not helping him out while he watches me kiss and hug him.
I think about this in terms of how I conduct my life and with whom I conduct it with. I find it no surprise, either, that I am drawn to other touchy/feely people. When I see my brother the first thing I anticipate is his beard scratching my lips when I kiss his cheek. When I see my Dad I anticipate this awkward head dance he does with me before he decides which cheek he’s planting his kiss on. When I see my children upon waking or when I get home I anticipate my kiss upon their foreheads or squishy cheeks. When I see my husband I anticipate whether I’m going to get a peck on the lips or a more tender kiss. When I see my girlfriends, that are feely too, I wonder if we get to do that hug where you squeeze the love out of each other or just a hug/kiss cheek thing. When I meet someone new in business that I have a good feeling about, I am excited for that handshake to see how firm it is and how they clasp.
I don’t know. It’s these things I think about sometimes because I got to tell you, when you come down from feeling love (however it is that YOU feel love) you feel like a new person. Revived. Showered. LOVED.
Sometimes it feels less fun or comfortable to express love to people in their love language. I have other people in my life that do not like physical touch. Some people, actually, get HIGHLY uncomfortable when people enter their personal space. I know this fact and just have to express love differently to those folks. It doesn’t FEEL lovely to me but everyone is wired differently.
The point is, again, that love isn’t to be contained. You cannot bottle it up to use later. Like a snowball, once given out it grows and morphs and becomes other things to other people. It’s a salve to a sad soul who’s wounds need licking. It’s an endorphin to someone already feeling a high in their life. It’s a reminder to all of us that the Holy Spirit is within us and speaks among us.
Do not be afraid or restrain yourself when you feel called to express love. I know so many people just hold back because they are not sure how they will be received or if they can trust people. I can tell you after years of experience in sharing and expressing love you can very easily know the genuine, authentic folks. It would be a shame after your short time here on earth (because when you think about life eternal, this is just a blip on the screen) you didn’t catch glimpses of what true love feels like. So don’t be afraid to shine that light of yours… it may feel awkward and uncomfortable but you may be surprised at what you find when you express your heart to those around you. We are all in this together, let’s make it lovely.