Love languages

There is a theory that we each express love in different ways that can be classified broadly under 5 “love languages“:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch
  • Giving/Receiving Gifts

It’s interesting that our two older children seem to have preferences for the way that they give and receive love. Today I have been wondering what makes us develop these kind of preferences; are we born hard-wired for a love language or are there environmental influences in our development that  cause us to develop preferences?

Do these preferences develop because that is how we experience love, or do we develop a craving for a love language if we experience a deficiency in it?

Why do I need words of affirmation?

Is there an age after which I can change my preferred love language? Or is that a default setting that I return to?

In case you are wondering Child 1 responds best to words of affirmation and Child 2 prefers physical touch, for the time being.

Our first go at house church

Believers
Four adults
Five children
The former more broken
Than the latter
Silent worship
And wonder
With music
And images
Of God’s earth
Placed
On its foundation
Bible passage
A demonstration
Not a sermon
Of what a firm foundation is
And thoughts
Response
Of what our foundations are
Prayer for the sick
Shared food
Shared time
With each other
And with God

The heart of God

In our family we have a book about a well known little blue steam train, that comes with a mirror that slides out from the back cover. It’s designed (I think) to help teach emotional intelligence to young children, by encouraging them to identify the emotions on the faces of the characters and then copy them in the mirror.

Over the Christmas period we were discussing the book, and what our favourite “faces” were; surprised, happy…”and sad!” piped up Anya.

“Why sad?” her mother asked.

“Because, then you can make them feel better,” she replied, glowing with the excitement of the truth that she had discovered.

At the age of 5 she has begun to explore the part of her soul that holds onto the suffering of others and yearns to make the world a better place, one person at a time. Maybe I knew that at the age of five, but it’s taken me at least a quarter of a century to rediscover the heart of God within His image that resides in me. My task, now, is to nurture it in both myself and Anya.

Humbug of sorts

I took my two children to a school fayre yesterday. The wanted to see Santa Claus. He asked them what they wanted for Christmas and then asked me if they had been good enough to deserve their desired Christmas gifts. Of course I said yes, what else could I say in that situation, but I couldn’t help but think that yet another white lie was being drummed in to my 5 year old and 2 year old children. Namely, that we only get what we deserve.

Surely the whole message of Christmas is that Jesus, the son of God, became a human child and went on to become a man that would die in order that we would get what what we didn’t deserve – a relationship with a living God. If Jesus had asked God, “Well have they been good enough for the first Christmas gift?” I’m certain of the answer…

And it’s the little lies around Christmas that I dislike the most – because they disguise themselves as something that feels good and right, like only giving presents to children who’ve been good. Like singing about the colour of the nose of a mythological character that led him to be an outcast. Only for his acceptance to depend on him doing something worthwhile – again, his worth was in what he did, not who he was, poor Rudolph.

A few days to be tolerant and kind towards your extended family, so you don’t have to make quite such an effort for the rest of the year. A few weeks to think about the poor and homeless and give to charity, to absolve oneself from year-round compassion. A few days for me to work out what on earth Jesus has got to do with Christmas trees, Christmas cards, turkey, sprouts, mulled wine, mince pies, Christmas crackers, Santa Claus, commercialism, materialism, indulgence. If this is life in all it’s fullness then I’ve got it all wrong.

So I just smile weakly and bear it. Bear it for the sake of the little ones and hope that their little souls and mine don’t get crushed by the enormity of the Christmas monster. That one day they’ll forgive their parents for letting them believe in Santa Claus (and the tooth fairy). And I hope that on every day of the year I remember that the greatest gift of life that I have received was not dependent on how good I was and that I can show my children they are loved for who they are and not what they do.

Letter to Anya and Elliot on their Thanksgiving (2 May 2010)

Dear Anya and Elliot

In days to come you may wonder why we put you in front of a church full of people, so I thought I would write you a letter to explain. Hopefully one day you’ll read this and it will make sense to you both.

Today is the chance for Mummy and me to say “Thank You” to God, in front of all these people, for the privilege of being your parents. To say thank you to God for lending you two wonderful children to us.

We want to say to God and to all the people here that we promise to try to bring you up to know that God knows you and loves you, that Jesus is your best friend and that God’s Holy Spirit can and will help you all through your lives. We want to promise to teach you to love God, to love each other, to love the people in this room and though this may seem like something impossible, to love all the people you meet, like Jesus would.

It may be that God’s big plan for Mummy and me is to try to make sure that we do those things so that you two can change the world you live in and help more people find out about Jesus. If that’s the case then we would be happy to do just that. That would be a wonderful plan for us.

Thank you for what you both already teach us about God’s love.

We know that we’re not perfect, so hope you don’t mind us asking our friends and family here to help us with the important job of being examples of God’s love to you – to teach you how to have compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.