The third love language we studied is acts of service.
The love language of service is one of sacrifice and help in a time of need. This is best exemplified through Jesus, and that is what we focused on in our group. Tina did a great job leading our discussion.
We listed all of the acts of service that Jesus performed and received during the three years of his ministry: healing the sick, raising the dead, washing feet, feeding five thousand, educated the masses and dying on the cross, just to name a few. He was among the least of them, the most needy and meet their basic, most pressing needs. Thinking about how Jesus received was a new tangle for me. He received water from the woman at the well. Another woman used expensive perfume to clean his feet. Martha served him when he was in her home. So this is a love language he knew well.
Acts of service is a way of expressing a sense of responsibliity for the well-being of others.
As with all of the gifts there is a shadow side, how it can be distorted to be negative and unhealthy. For acts of service its underbelly is slavery. In slavery you are not giving because you want to but because you have to. In slavery “freedom to truly serve is lost. Slavery hardens the heart. Slavery creates angelr, bitterness, and resentment.” This isn’t love.
When you treat another person as an object, you preclude the possibility of love. Manupulation by guilt (‘If you loved me, you would do this for me’) is not the language of love. Coercion by fear (‘You will do this or you will be sorry’) is alient to love. Love refuses to be manipulated.
I have to admit this love language is really hard for me, not to give but to receive. I think I’ve got too much experience with the black side of acts of service. For me it means vulnerability and weakness. I do not like to be needy. If I can’t do it myself I don’t really need it. Making a need be known is really an effort. If someone asks to help that’s one thing. But having to ask is quite another. This is definitely an area I need to work on.
It’s interesting that when God reveals a weakness he will continue to work on it for you. In another study this idea of vulnerability through acts of service came up again. This time it went futher to say that the inability to ask for help is evidence of a stubborn pride preventing us from letting go and asking God for help. So instead of growing, changing and maturing we cling to lifestyle that doesn’t work for us anymore but we’re suck because we operate in our own power never asking for help. Yikes. Definitely need to look at that some more.
Still, acts of service is definitely not my primary love language.
The second kind of love language we studied are gifts.
Chapman believes that giving gifts is one of the fundamental universal languages of love, in any culture. When done in its purest, unselfish, no strings attached way it is a “visual symbol of love.”
Now to the person whose primary love language is gifts it doesn’t matter if the gift is found, made, bought, small, big, expensive, or cheap. It is about the symbolic act of giving something to them in a loving way.
However, just like everything else it too can be perverted. The wrong kind of gift giving is when you expect something in return, are using it as leverage, it cannot be a payment for anything, or used as an apology and mean the same thing.
Chapman also says this is the easiest language to learn. If we’re paying attention we will pick up on the clues others give to us about what they like, what they need, what they’re hoping for and what their interests are. If we’re good listeners we will be able to buy, make, and recognize appropriate gifts for those that are important to us.
In our small group we all drew names and made something this week. It was great to see all of the different ideas that abounded and reflected how well we know each other. It was a fun exercise.
I think for me that the great thing about gifts is that it shows how well you know someone or how well they know you. Gifts can be a disaster if you’re not paying attention. I’ve received gifts that have nothing to do with me and is more about what the other person likes or wants, that isn’t love.
I’ve also received gifts that were the longing of my soul and many times those gifts cost little or nothing. It isn’t about how much money you spend. I don’t think many guys get that in a dating relationship. Free tip for ya – we just want to know you’re paying attention. That’s all. We really aren’t that difficult, we just require a little work.
While I appreciate gifts I know it isn’t my primary love language.
Through a string of links from here to here I found a neat survey on books. I love books. I buy way to many and it might take me years to read them. I can’t pass up a sale, a good plot line or a topic I’m interested in. You can start to see my problem can’t you.
One of the greatest things I look forward to after grad school is reading for fun again. Although I do sneak in one or two here and there.
So here is the survey:
Total number of books I own: Way to many to count. I want a library someday.
Last book I bought: Stuart Little (For Kayla) The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor (For Me)
The last book I read: Family Therapy with Ethnic Minorities
Books that I read over and over as a kid: Ramona; Adventures of Frog and Toad; Aesop’s Fables; The Secret Garden; Little House on the Prairie Series; Anne of Green Gables; Pippi Longstocking
I was reminded of these books as I went into Barnes and Noble with Kayla. I wanted to encourage her love of books by buying her a couple. It was fun to go go through the aisles and see a bunch of old friends. Books were my refuge and escape as a kid. I remember more about them that much of my childhood. My favorite thing was a trip to the library – remember bookmobiles. I LOVED them.