Friday, November 15, 2013

Learning to love.

Sometimes I like to convince myself that my love language isn't gifts, because I don't want to seem selfish and difficult to love. "Quality time is my number one," I always say. "It's followed by a close second of... well, everything else," is how I should probably follow that up, but never do. For those of you scratching your heads wondering what the heck I'm referring to, the Five Love Languages is one of my favorite tests of learning to love others in the best way possible, as well as to learn which kind of love you favor in receiving. The types of love are split up into five categories by Dr. Gary Chapman and are, in no particular order:
  1. Quality time
  2. Words of affirmation
  3. Acts of service
  4. Receiving gifts
  5. Physical Touch
Now it's been a while since I've taken the test, but each time I'm a recipient of some measure of love, I analyze my interior feelings, and measure them up to the reactions I experience when I receive other types of love. From my research thus far, I've deduced that, well, um this is awkward, but I just really like to be loved. I've come to understand that each person has a unique way of giving and receiving love, and they oftentimes (whether they like to admit it or not) will give love in the way they desire most to receive. And because I want to learn to love others well, when a measure of love is measured out to me, it must mean that that person is more willing to receive that measure of love back! What a joy to continue learning the art of loving others well, a lesson that we should not be so quick to forget in this lifetime.

The reason for this post is because, for some strange reason, I've realized lately how many people tell me they don't like to receive words of affirmation (aka compliments) because "it makes them feel awkward." Personally, I'm not quite sure how someone bending over in humility to tell you something positive about yourself makes you feel awkward. I don't mean this to be a slam to anyone who falls into that category, but I will challenge it; what is it about a compliment to your person makes you feel uncomfortable? Is it because you aren't quite comfortable with the man or woman you've become? Is it because you don't believe they could possibly be telling the truth? "I mean, that's really nice of them to say, but when I look in a mirror I see things they could never see. They forgot to take note of imperfection A and flaw B. If they saw those things they would definitely take back what they said."

Have you ever thought those things to yourself? I bring this to light not because of some exterior revelation, but because that I have fallen into believing those same lies time and time again. This became particularly clear the other day when I was going through a box of notes I've collected over the past two and a half years. I've literally saved every note, Christmas card, thank you, and other random "you're great" notes that I've received since accepting a call to staff (and let's be real, I probably have a lot more notes from before that stashed away somewhere in WI). A little embarrassingly, that box was getting so full I couldn't really close it anymore, so I figured it's time I go through and clean house. Obviously I couldn't just throw them all away without reading them first, so I took an hour to catch up on some reading and be affirmed. While reading each of these letters that I've read at some point in the past, I was moved as if it was the first time I had seen these letters, notes and cards. If you, dear reader, sent me a note in the past two years please know how grateful I am. Those words always come at the exact right times, and being a person appreciative of gifts, words of affirmation and every other love language, they mean very much to me. So thank you! 

I like being able to just throw things away and remain detached from worldly possessions. I realized when trying to decide between keeping certain notes and throwing others away I wanted to keep all of them! There were some, yes, that are headed down to 45th street (i.e. the Fargo landfill) and others that were placed back in the box until the next time I go through and clean them out. I guess I'm not so quick to "just throw things out" as I thought I was, but that's okay. If I'm having a bad day I guess I know where I can go for a little love.

With all this being said, if there is someone in your life that has made a difference, helped you see things in a clearer light, or has just been a positive influence in your life, send them a note! Affirm them and let them know how much you care. Don't use age or time since seeing them as an excuse. People of every age and place enjoy knowing that they are loved, and some people more readily accept it when they are able to accept it in private (i.e. via writing). 

Near the very end of my senior year in college a dear friend of mine was getting married and a friend's mom and co. wanted to throw her what they called a "wedding way." The weekend consisted of celebrating the person that she is, how special she has been from her very birth, and how she is growing beautifully into the woman God is creating her to be. I was talking with Windsong, one of the women throwing her this fiesta, about handwritten notes and letters. I remember her distinctly saying, "What is it like to even receive a handwritten letter these days? Do people still do that? I would not be able to contain my happiness if someone took the time to write me a letter."

Take the time to write a letter to someone you love today. I can bet you will make someone's day, somewhere.

That's all for now, too many other things to share with you.

P.S. halfway through this post I checked today's mail and there was a card waiting for me...I am so blessed! The Lord always knows what I need...and what I want. Sometimes he gives me both.