Have you ever thought much about love languages? You know – the five basic love languages that everyone speaks at least one of. (At least, that’s what the experts have decided. I suppose they could be wrong. For the sake of this post, and because an argument about the accuracy of the love languages thing is beside the point, let’s please assume the experts that decided all that stuff are right. Thank you.) Love languages are troublesome little…things. I mean, they’re just another neat way that God made each of us unique, but they also make it difficult to communicate sometimes. Not everyone speaks the same love language, and that can be a problem. I don’t know about you, but I have a very bad tendency to ignore the love languages that don’t mean much to me personally.
This summer I got to practice really working to speak someone else’s love language instead of mine. (Yes, at STEP. How did you ever guess?) See, my primary love language is “physical touch”. Mostly because it’s the easiest one to use, but anyways. I like hugs. They’re easy, and they mean a lot to me. Well, my group leader’s love language is seriously not physical touch. At all. When she initiates a hug it’s a major thing, because we all know it’s not natural for her. Anyhow. Since my natural instinct is to hug, and hugs don’t really mean anything to her, I had to find another route. And it was good for me to have to pay more attention to her love language rather than just doing the easy thing. Ended up, I got to spend time talking with her several times throughout the month, and I feel like I got to know her much better because I had to work to try to speak her love language instead of my own than I would have if I had stuck to what I knew best.
Recently I had the thought that love languages are sort of like Phileo (brotherly love – aka, I love you because you love me) verses Agape (unconditional love – aka, I love you whether or not you deserve or return it). Let’s say that my love languages represent Phileo love. It’s easy to speak them, because they come naturally to me; just like Phileo love – loving people in a way that comes easily. What about the love languages that I don’t speak naturally? I think they represent Agape love. Because Agape love is intentional, it’s unconditional, it doesn’t come naturally to me. You really have to choose to use a love language that is not your own natural one, just like you have to seriously have to choose to love someone that you don’t naturally want to love. Agape love is intentional. Agape love takes grace. And it takes Agape love to speak someone else’s love language.
Real love is intentional, no matter what language it is in. It’s not just fuzzy feelings – it’s a deliberate choice, one that you have to make over and over again. I know from experience how easy it is to float along and not bother to intentionally love the people around me. I could just go through my day making coffee at my job and not trying to see the souls behind the people that come in needing a boost of caffeine. I could float through college classes just enjoying myself and trying to get good grades and keep the instructor happy with me, and totally ignore all the other students. I could go to church and just do the necessary stuff and never bother to look into the eyes of the people around me, just as broken and in need of love as I am. I could sit around at home and forget about my brother who is bored and needs someone to play with him, my mom who has work she would love for someone to help her with, my dad playing sudoku or solitaire on the couch all by himself, my sisters in their room on their computers. I could. It would be easy. But real love is intentional, not easy. And there are millions (or is it billions?) of people in this world who desperately need intentional, tangible love every day. I need to – through God’s power – take a step back from all the stuff I have to do and look at the souls that are constantly staring at me through the eyes that I habitually avoid. It’s not enough to do my stuff. If I am not loving the people I come in contact with, I am nothing. (Referencing 1 Corinthians 13)
Love people. Not the easy way. Remember that greater love has no man than this – that he lay down his life for his friends. Laying down your life for someone else is dying to yourself and your own desires and seeking to meet the needs of other people, whether it’s easy or not. It’s choosing to love.