Sunday, December 6, 2009

Love Languages in Overdrive

Gary Chapman’s Love Languages have been sliced and diced in so very many ways, yet I wonder if the following observations have been made. The Love Languages are a system of thinking around relationships which makes our efforts both tangible and meaningful. They’re also a process; they help us see how our love (expressed as a tangible set of languages) matures.

When we “speak” all the love languages (affirming and helping people, spending quality time with them, able to appropriately touch them (i.e. hugs etc), and give gifts) fluently, we do this in at least two ways when in so-called overdrive:

  1. It’s how we more fully recognise and meet the needs of others in our expression of the languages that suit them as individuals; and,
  2. It’s how we accept love from others—how we affirm them in their loving of us.

Most people disregard the second angle, though it’s an equally critical component of relational love, especially if we’re dealing with a lot of mature people who naturally wish to love back. It speaks also of our own self-esteem, for many of us find it easy to love other people but we at times struggle to love ourselves. How well do we receive peoples’ thanks or gifts, for instance?

But, it’s possibly this that separates the analysis from others: over our development and incorporation of the love languages personally—over the lifespan—we reach, hopefully, a place where our needs no longer press in so much, for true love (as far as we’re concerned) is not really about us.

Our Divine relationship gives us power in that those relationship languages that held us so tightly and defined us so neatly become, over time, less of a “condition” upon others in their loving and relating of us.

Put simply, if we once pined to be affirmed, that desire for others to meet that need might wane, over time. We become less of a burden upon others in their loving of us because we gradually mature in faith, not requiring the generous helpings of love heaped upon us as they were previously.

It’s the Divine relationship that now meets that need, our higher power; God. For we know, God’s love is all-encompassing. He can love us so sufficiently that if there were a void in all the love languages expressed to us, he’d make up for it. We’re talking the inflow of God’s all-satisfying love here, to the point that externalities of love are now not really an issue.

The ultimate expression of the Love Languages—the perfect aim—is 1) being so skilled in meeting others’ needs (being skilled in loving via all five languages) whilst simultaneously, 2) never needing (i.e. insisting upon) the love of others styled the way we once needed it, complete with, 3) the ability to receive love (that is not needed) in ways others can give it as a way of authentically affirming their love.

When we reach this place we love others unencumbered. We intuit their needs, we subdue our own (because we’ve learned the Divine relationship does it), yet we have a way of making others’ love of us real and meaningful for them.

This is the greatest gift in relationships—allowing others’ love to actually love us in ways they feel truly affirmed, no matter how they offer that love.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

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