Friday, July 31, 2015

My Love Language

South Haven, MI
This week has been a terrific week, a week full of lots of sunshine and swimming, kayaking, blueberries, playing games with cousins and listening to the creative stories my siblings and cousins come up with. I can’t remember the last time my nose was so sunburned. I promise I have been applying copious amounts of sunscreen, but at some point you can only do so much. In the end I am to blame because it’s my fault for letting my skin go so long without the sun. I think it’s been about four years since I got to spend so much time absorbing sunshine and beauty in general. Needless to say, it’s been long overdue. Beauty is nourishment to the soul and there is so much to be had on the balmy shores of Lake Michigan. Whether it’s in the aqua green and deep blue of the lake or in the specks of colors on stones smoothed and eroded by the constant turn of the waves, beauty is everywhere here. I forgot how much I love Michigan, how much I love the towering trees and hills, the sandy shores, the sinking sun over a Lake as clear and still as glass. It has been nothing short of a blessing to be here and to be here with family.

This week I have enjoyed reading Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages for Singles. I am almost finished with the book and so far it has been an edifying and convicting read. Believe it or not, the chapter that hit home for me was the chapter on the love language of Gifts. For a long time I have presumed that Quality Time is my love language because that’s what I got when I took the quiz online (not a very thorough quiz, if you ask me). But as I read Chapman’s book, the love language of Gifts was the one that I related to the most and here is why.

Chapman clarifies in his book that people who prefer Gifts as their primary love language are not necessarily materialistic. I think this is why I always was turned off of this love language, because I thought that if I appreciated gifts as a token for love I was simply materialistic. But the key to gifts as a love language is not the love of the gift itself but the love for the one who gives the gift. A couple weeks ago my brother Greg was helping me dust my bedroom when he asked me, “Why do you have all these knickknacks?” Well, I like knickknacks because they are pretty but most of my knickknacks are actually gifts from people. They serve as decorations but they are also are reminders of the people I love and the people who love me.

When I thought about gifts in this context, I realized that there are a lot of things I am sentimentally attached to.

My doll, Millie, for instance. She is the first gift I ever remember receiving. I got her from Grandma McLane, our adopted grandmother at the time, when I was three years old. She remains to this day one of my most beloved items for no reason apart from the fact that she was a gift from someone who loved me. I still have Pancake the Panda, a gift from one of my best childhood friends growing up. Then there is the dress I inherited from my mother, sewn by my great-grandmother on the occasion of my mom’s eighth grade violin/piano recital. And then there is the accordion that used to belong to my dad, one of the most precious things I own. The value of these items is not in their inherent quality but in the love of the people who gave them.

When I was about ten or eleven years old (I can’t remember which birthday it was!) there was one summer when my family went to visit my Granmutti, my dad’s mom. It was near my birthday so naturally I presumed we would celebrate my birthday once we got to Mutti’s house. Unfortunately when we arrived, my siblings and parents told me, “Dani, we’re not going to celebrate your birthday until after we go home.” I was disappointed. What about Mutti? Didn’t she want to celebrate my birthday? Mutti told me the same thing the rest of my family did. “Well, we’re not going to celebrate your birthday because you’re celebrating when you go home.” I was devastated! I tried not to show how disappointed I was, but I’m sure my family could see it.

The next day Papa took Ruth and me to his Cousin Janelle’s house to help her with her horses. We fed them, groomed them and she eventually let us ride them. This was during the days when I was still horse-crazy (I wanted to be a barrel racer and trick-rider when I grew up) and so I had a lot of fun but I was still sore about the fact that Mutti was not planning to celebrate my birthday. When Papa, Ruth and I arrived back at Mutti’s house there was a birthday cake waiting on the dining room table and Mutti and the rest of my family cried “Surprise!” when I came in. You cannot imagine how overjoyed I was! A cap gun was hidden in the middle of the cake and among my presents I received a cowgirl outfit, cowgirl hat and gun holster from Mutti. That remains to this day one of the best birthdays ever because Mutti not only remembered my birthday but she took the time and effort to discover what would make a meaningful gift to me.

Gifts are not always material items. Letters are one of my favorite gifts to receive. Someone’s time can also be an incredible gift, which is why quality time is one of my favorite love languages as well. Any and every gift usually speaks to me in a huge way, because it’s not necessarily the gift itself that matters but the thoughtfulness behind the gift. For me, gifts are ultimately so special because they are a reminder that I am remembered, that I am thought of by someone even when I am not with that person. This does not mean that I am materialistic or that I expect or need gifts all the time. If anything, receiving tons of gifts all the time would somewhat diminish the value of gifts.

One thing Chapman emphasized in his chapter on Gifts is that gifts cannot replace the other love languages. While we each have a love language that speaks the most deeply to us, we all still need to receive every single other love language on some level. Gifts cannot compensate for lack of quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch and acts of service. A gift given as means of apologizing or making up for a failure to follow through on something else loses its flavor. There is a proper context and purpose for gifts. That being said, gift-giving is not easy. I am actually rather poor at giving gifts because it is not a love language I am fluent at speaking. In my family, my siblings and parents usually prefer quality time and acts of service to gifts. The love language I am most fluent at speaking is probably words of affirmation but the primary love languages that mean the most to me are gifts and quality time.

Are you familiar with the Five Love Languages? If so, do you know what your primary love language is?

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10 comments :

  1. Thanks for sharing this post Dani! Until today, I have never heard of the Five Love Languages. I'm definitely going to check it out. It seems like an interesting read. And, I absolutely relate to you about receiving hand written letters! If someone asks me what I want for my birthday, I usually tell them that a long handwritten letter is enough =D

    ❤ Blaze Ann
    www.p31beauty.blogspot.com

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    1. Blaze, I included a link in my post just now to the book on Amazon as well as a link to the Five Love Languages website where you can take the exam. Let me know what you think of it! I have found it helpful, for the most part.

      Handwritten letters are definitely the best an in the context of the five love languages, handwritten letters include gifts, words of affirmation and even acts of service. :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Lovely post, Danielle! After reading your post I took the 5 Love Languages test at their website. My top scores there were Acts of Service followed by Words of Affirmation and quality time. From the descriptions, I'd say that's pretty accurate. Fun quiz/test.

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    1. Thank you, Bethany! I'm glad you enjoyed it. The test is really fun. I always like to discover what other peoples' love languages are, especially my family and friends.

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  3. My love language is "Gifts" as well. It's a bit tricky for me when everyone else in my family could care less about getting or giving. One of the biggest things that I have had to learn is that often, my family members ARE showing me they love me even when they don't give me something. They are doing it instead with one of their love languages--spending time with me, doing an act of service for me, etc. I enjoyed the post Dani!

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    1. Lydia, I have had to learn the same thing! Gifts is not a very prominent love language in my family. Most of us are acts of service. I think my brothers and my dad were the hardest for me to understand until I realized that when they gave me advice that was their love language...they were trying to find a practical way to help me because that's how they best express that they care. :)

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  4. This is a fantastic post, Dani! I love what you shared about your memories, the little things you treasure in the gifts given to you through time, and things like that birthday with your grandmother :D!!

    I think "Gifts" is a very important thing in our lives, and I think a vital theme of Scripture as well; the Bible has so many references to God's gifts to us - the gift of His grace - and the Greatest Gift of all, Jesus Christ our Lord! So surely it is an element to understand and treasure. For me, I really feel blessed when I receive a gift from loved ones! That object because more than just that object because of the love and kindness bestowed upon me through it, and I love being reminded of that love in subsequent months and years whenever I look at that object, card or letter or memory :). I have to be honest though, I just *love* giving gifts to my friends and loved ones. . . it is definitely one of the ways I love to express my love to them. But like you, Dani, my favourite ways of showing and probably receiving love is words of affirmation and giving quality time :D.

    This post was great, Dani! I always love the thoughts you share! Please keep sharing and writing!
    Much love xox <3

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    1. Gary Chapman is a Christian and he writes about the Five Love Languages from a Christian worldview, but I felt like he could have used Christ as a more effective example and as I read his book my mind kept going back to Christ, how Jesus speaks these love languages to us. :)

      Thank you for commenting, Joy! I always enjoy hearing from you. :)

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  5. I have heard of the five love languages before and my love language is Quality Time and my secondary love language is Words of Affirmation.

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    1. That's awesome, Megan! Thanks for stopping by. :)

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