In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve been thinking about a book store. I know, I know, such a romantic thing to think about, but at least I’m an honest bookworm. Unlike some people, who plan to get their party on by watching The Princess Bride, while drinking sparkling grape juice, I have no such exciting plans. In fact, as of this moment, I have no plans, so what can I talk about, while the rest of the world is out receiving roses, going to fancy dinners, or perhaps bursting into tears because they didn’t get the aforementioned roses/dinners?
I was thinking about Christmastime in Australia, when I was spending my vacation with a friend in Brisbane. Of course, I was sick during that time, but still striving to achieve some aspects of normalcy, while mentally cursing all side effects of antibiotics. My friend and I went to visit a Christian book store, and I was thrilled. I’d been to our local book store in Emerald, many many times, but I hadn’t been into anything bigger for some time. And a Christian book store? My goodness, what fiction might they have come out with in the last year?
Oh, I knew, deep down, that I shouldn’t be buying much, because any book I bought, I would have to ship home. My Kindle was my mainstay for any book that I just HAD to have, and couldn’t get at the library. But in the meantime, real books were at my fingertips, and I was going to drool for all I was worth. And to make things even better, the book store had a coffee shop. Don’t ask me which one, it surely wasn’t Starbucks or Gloria Jean’s, but I could get a latte and carry it around with me. My body was probably going to object to it, later, because it was objecting to everything I put in it… but I didn’t care.
Oh, did I wander through that store and check out all the sections! But at first, I was very good, and only picked up one Christian fantasy book by Donita K. Paul, because I couldn’t find it on Kindle. It wasn’t as good as the originals in that series, but I still enjoyed reading it. And I found a biography of sorts, about G. K. Chesterton. Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life & Impact of G.K. Chesterton is a biography, but it goes through the life of Chesterton by way of all of his writings. The whys and wherefores behind everything he wrote, how he was changed and how he changed others by what he wrote.
If you’ve never heard of him, it was his book, The Everlasting Man, that C. S. Lewis credits with bringing him to Christianity. And yes, if you’re only aware of Lewis because of The Chronicles of Narnia, please remember that he was a very well-known Christian apologist, as well. But Chesterton was a colossus in the field of writing and knew something about everything. He was the king of quotes, and I became of a fan of his, several years ago, when my summer staff kids and I were reading up on him.
So, I bought my two books, and thought I was finished. But opportunity mustn’t be wasted… I was in a book store, and found myself unable to sit still. I kept wandering around, and found a stand with all sorts of Christian magnets. Among them, I found some that were shaped like Australia, with Bible verses on them. Just perfect for a few small gifts to bring home to my church friends! I went back up to the register, and bought those, too. I felt a bit silly, coming back again.
Finally, I was starting to get tired, so I went look for a place to sit down. And found a chair in a section I hadn’t noticed. Yes, I was in the relationship section. Oh, dear. And I say that, not because that section is upsetting (remember, I am single), but because I find it so fascinating. As a result, my wallet can be in danger. I told myself that I was done shopping, I didn’t need to go look at any of the books… but no, I couldn’t resist. I hopped back to my feet, and picked up The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, by Gary Chapman.
The reason I picked up The Five Love Languages is because I’d already read quite a few that were on the shelves there, and I’d never gotten around to that one yet. Think I’m joking? I’ve read two books by Emerson Eggerichs (Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs and Cracking the Communication Code), two by Joshua Harris (I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl), and two by Shaunti & Jeff Feldhahn (For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men and For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women). There are probably several others, but I can’t remember them, at the moment.
These are all great books, by the way, and if the title interests you, check it out, whether you’re a Christian or not. These were written for everyone, because everyone is confused by the opposite sex, all the time, right? A girl pal and I have hilarious memories of booking our way through the Feldhahn books, while we were in Hawaii, and discussing them. Yes, both the For Women Only AND For Men Only. Because we all want to know what they’re telling the opposite sex about us, right?
I have many good examples of dating relationships and marriages that I’ve observed over the years, but I’ve always figured that as long as I’m single (and even after I get married, someday), why not learn everything you can, so you can try and avoid a few mistakes. Nothing wrong with being prepared. I think that a lot of marital and dating problems, nowadays, come from not preparing yourself for the work involved in a relationship. Because honestly, do guys really understand girls, and do girls understand guys? Of course we don’t. So, read up, learn a few things, and prepared yourself for the fight to finish the most wonderful, exciting race you’ll ever run.
Oh, have you been raised to believe that marriage is the ball-and-chain situation, where all the romance drains away, and you eventually grow bored with each other? Well, if you put no effort into your marriage, then perhaps that is true. Love is an action and marriage is not all daisies and Valentines. You have days when you adore each other and days when you can’t stand each other. That’s because you’re human. But that doesn’t mean you can’t work your way through the good and the bad together and come out the stronger in the end.
There I go again, giving advice on something I haven’t yet experienced. : ) No firsthand experience of marriage yet, sorry. But I have seen lots of long-lasting marriages during my whole life, from a family that I’ve been blessed to be a part of and a large group of friends, some my age and some older. I think if you can’t learn by observation… what are they there for, if not to observe? I know some of my friends and family members well enough to KNOW that their marriages are not easy, all the time, but that just makes the joys all the greater. I hope to follow in their footsteps, someday.
When I picked up The Five Love Languages, I was curious to know what my friends were always babbling about, talking about “their love language” and how their hubby tried so hard to speak it, even when his was another. Usually, they’re talking about what specific one that is their favorite to use, but they’ll have a secondary one. After opening the book, I was hooked on the first few pages… and went up to the cash register for the third time, figuring I had to take this one home with me. By then, I was exhausted by our expedition, so I didn’t move from my chair again, until it was time to go.
If you’ve never read this book, then let me explain a bit. The idea is that all of us uses a particular “language” to express their love or affection for those around them. You might not know what your own is, but you probably know what one belongs to some of your family. Because when you use it on them, they are SO appreciative. Or maybe they use theirs on your all the time.
The choices are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Affection, Quality Time, and Gifts. Now, if you’re like me, you probably think that ALL of those sound great. But which one or two sounds better than the rest? There’s even a quiz in the book, to help you figure it out. Immediately, I know that one of my cousins uses the Gifts language, because the dear girl sends thoughtful and funny presents to people in the mail, all the time. She LOVES to do this, and all of her friends love that about her. So, imagine if someone gave her something delightfully thoughtful, wouldn’t she feel loved?
My suspicion is that a certain member of my family has the love language of Acts of Service… not just because she is always doing things for others, but because of how she reacts when one of us empties the dishwasher, does the laundry, clears the counters, and vacuums the living room. If you can make someone light up, just by giving them a hand around the house, do you think this might be one on their “language list”?
Short explanation (these may sound obvious, but give it some thought): “Words of Affirmation” is to express in words how much you appreciate someone and the things they do/are to you. “Acts of Service” is to show someone you love them by mowing the lawn, washing the car, and cleaning the bathroom. “Affection” is to show your love with hugs and kisses, the people that hug you as soon as they see you, or pat your back while conversing with you. “Quality Time” is spending time with that person, whether talking or just being with them, just so that you’re there and listening, not pretending to listen. And, of course, “Gifts” are what you receive from that person who thinks flowers, cards, and little gifts are just the way to show their love… all year long, not just on Valentine’s Day.
When I took the quiz, I came up with a three-way tie, which might be unusual. But then, I’m a little uncertain about the third one, because I only show affection to those that I’m absolutely closest to, other than that, don’t get into my personal space. If I am not close to you, as a friend, you will be on my “hugging list”. If I ever get to date someone, then I’ll figure out how this one goes.
I was a bit shocked to realize that though I knew Quality Time would be on my list, Words of Affirmation was probably even higher on my list. Have I ever asked you if I’m bothering you, when calling you on the phone, or talking to you on chat? Yes, I have a tendency to think I’m in the way, so if I ever find someone who speaks that love language, naturally, I’ll be flying high.
Ok, I wasn’t really intending to do a complete soul-searching session there, but I thought you might be curious what I found for myself in that book, not just my family members. I definitely found that everyone should be loved and respected in a way that makes them feel loved. You might be showing them that you love them, but they might not realize it, because they don’t “speak” it that way, themselves. So, for Valentine’s Day, don’t just think about what color of roses your wife/girlfriend will like, but maybe think about whether you’re showing them love in the way that they can see it.
Don’t forget, love is an action. Love is a verb. If love was all mush and goopy feelings, we’d run the first time our loved ones got a virus that had them puking their guts out. You don’t feel the fluffy, butterflies-in-your-stomach when someone’s throwing up. Remember to act on your love, and show them how much you care. Forget about being selfish, for once, and put them first. They’ll love you all the more for it.
P.S. If you want something fun to WATCH, then check out Mark Gungor on YouTube, in his talk called A Tale of Two Brains. My Brisbane friend sent it to me, and I’ve been shrieking with laughter over it, the last few nights. Good advice and good fun, especially if the above subject interests you.