5 Ways to Love Your Family TODAY
Have you ever felt like you just were not "enough?"
Like everyone wants you to be something else, better, or different?
Do you feel like a square peg in a round hole?
Well, I have certainly been there. And recently I've heard mamas comparing their kids to each other, and older mamas examining one grandchild unfavourably and comparing them to another. Does it hurt your heart when that happens?
So, this is going to be an encouraging post to let you embrace this special thing:
The way God made you, that particular "thing" that makes you YOU ... it's super-fabulous!
I am reminded of this special Christian song, published YEARS ago, that still rings true to every child out there. Please enjoy this iteration of these precious lyrics...
I want to encourage you to communicate this to every one of your kids, your spouse, extended family, and friends. God made you a very extraordinary individual, and He did NOT make an error. You have capabilities, gifts, talents, and something unique to contribute to God's world. And I want you to remember that.
There are different personalities in every family. Of course, there are! Yours and mine included. You and your spouse are not identical, and neither of you is better than the other. You KNOW that. You're just different. But do you believe that?
And how about your children? They may be more like one of you than the other, and that's FINE! God has a plan for that as well.
If you have someone distinctly different from you in your family, perhaps it gives you a chance to understand someone else's point of view. And, they will also be better for having your point of view to consider. Thank the LORD for the differences in your family.
Have You Heard of the 5 Love Languages?
What are the Love Languages, you ask? You have probably already heard about them. ;0) There are commonly 5 Love Languages written and talked about, made famous by Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages Series, by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell.
The 5 Love Languages are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Physical touch, Quality Time, and Gifts -- Languages that explain what they are by simply saying the words. But I'm going to do something crazy and take just a minute to propose a sixth ... sort of.
You know when taking a multiple-choice quiz and one happened to be “all of the above?” Well, that is sort of what the sixth is! The "sixth" love language would, I think, be the ability to amalgamate your loved ones' top two or more! You see, when we speak in more than one Love Language, we have more of a chance of our love message getting across.
But we have to take the time to do it and be intentional about it.
The Love Languages are helpful here because when you speak your child's or spouse's Love Language, they will hear it loud and clear. But those aren't even the five things we are diving into directly! We will briefly discuss them, but we are going to answer with the 5 ways to USE them to love your family!
Understand You Naturally
Speak Your Own Love Language
Your own Love Language is the one you naturally speak. It comes naturally for you, and you don't have to even think about it. If you are wondering what your child's or spouse's Love Language is, observe what they do naturally, and you'll soon have the clues you need to determine what it is.
For me, if I'm around you, and care about you, it won't be long before I pat you lovingly on the arm or back, and I will hug you if you're a friend. I naturally reach out and connect, physically, with a hand on your arm, for instance. I love to hold babies and hug them. I love to pat or stroke children's hair and hold their hand while walking. I love to have them on my lap while reading to them.
Another thing I naturally do is to send you a card on your birthday, send you encouraging texts, and emails, and I love plaques with Bible verses and messages of hope, courage, and love on them. I am drawn to quotes and love learning new words. I write and talk a lot. Guess what my primary and secondary Love Languages are?
Yep, Physical touch and Words of Affirmation. Actually, Chapman does say that words of affirmation are the most common primary love language, but by a small margin. It is possible to have two, but you will definitely have one.
Embrace That Everyone in Your Family
Probably Has a Love Language
Different Than Yours
You know that there are different love languages in a relationship. I know I do! If my husband and I ever have a bit of a quarrel, within a very short time, I will hear my husband emptying the dishwasher, or notice he is folding laundry. Guess what his Love Language is? You guessed it: Acts of Service.
My son will visit and spend hours with us, talking over what he's studying in the Word, what his thoughts and beliefs are regarding current events, how his latest project on his house is going, and we have deep conversations. We play board games together. We've travelled together. He will call and say, "I could come over this week if you'd like?" When he visits, he stays a long time, and we almost have to kick him out:) Guess what his Love Language is? Absolutely: it's Quality Time.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18
If you have someone very different from you in your family, perhaps it gives you a chance to understand someone else's point of view? And, they will be better for having your point of view to consider. Thank the LORD for the differences in your family.
Similarly, it you are a daughter-in-law or a mother-in-law, please determine to love each other, and work hard to honor and respect, without comparing. If you are a mother, affirm your children's uniqueness, and look for those unique traits and gifts that God has put into each child, without comparing that child to their sibling, or expecting them to be good at the same things.
If you want to look in The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively you can find dozens of tips for practical ways to speak your child’s love language. It is a good place to help you find an answer to an important question: "You love your child, but does your child feel loved?"
Know God Has a Plan for Each Language
God knew what He was doing when He created you, and He also put your family together. You have a purpose in each other's lives!
Just as you don't want to compare unfavourably one child to another, you probably wouldn't ever compare your spouse to another man. If you are a mother-in-law, I know you also wouldn't ever, ever, ever, compare one daughter-in-law to another, PLEASE! (Or heaven forbid, one grandchild to another grandchild!)
And I genuinely pray that if you feel like you were a mistake, you will put that away. You are a treasure! Look to God, and in His eyes, you will see how special you are.
He loves you so much!
So very, very much.
Does this mean you have nothing to change or improve? Of course not. But we all are on a journey and must confess our sins each evening, and start with God's new mercies every morning.
Find Practices to Help You
Express Your Love Language
I want to encourage you to stay away from environments and people that leave you feeling you have nothing to offer, that make you feel like you are a failure, and cause you to be so discouraged, feel like giving up, and think, "Why even try." Some believers smartly tend to stay off of Social Media at times for this very reason. Good choice!
Spend time with God, first of all. Be thankful. What we tell ourselves over and over, we begin to believe, even if it's a lie. So, tell yourself the truth in love! Build yourself up in God's Word, in faith, in love, and encourage yourself in the LORD.
I recently made a Thankful Thoughts Journal for a low price. Feel free to check it out below and if you grab it, just print it out and use the prompts with your family to encourage more gratitude! Print one out for your children! Start the day with a time of appreciation in your family time, Homeschool, with your children, and spouse, and write out thankful thoughts--this will be a treasure, and it automatically encourages everyone to be LOOKING for what they are grateful for throughout the day! It really can transform your home and family! Hey, maybe even give one to your friends and family, too, because it makes a great gift!
Surround yourself with positive words (especially if your Love Language is Words of Affirmation, like me)! If you don't have people speaking them to you, refute the negative words with words of truth from God's Word, and put Scripture all over your house! Make sure you're saying truth, and encouragement to your mind daily. Here is an opportunity to do just that: SCRIPTURE CARDS!
Discover That You Can Be Multi-Lingual!
Can I have more than one or possibly speak ALL the love languages? Yes! If you look for ways, you can. Seek ways to speak all the love languages to your family. They will feel your love. Those who feel loved tend to show love back!
When a child or adult feels compared unfavourably, they often distance themselves, physically or emotionally, from you, and they may give up trying to please you, for they think that it's no use. ("Why even try!?")
You may think they can't tell, or maybe you don't know, you are comparing them unfavourably, but they feel it, without you saying a word! When a person (child or adult) feels accepted and loved unconditionally, they will bloom and blossom. They are drawn to you, without you having to say a thing, and they will seek to please you even more.
None of us have done that perfectly every time! I'm just trying to praise the way God has made them. I'm not talking about flattery, but praise for godly behaviour, for character qualities, for example, perseverance, humility, generosity, patience, wisdom, joyfulness, thankfulness, kindness, serving, to name a few.
It's never a bad thing to tell a child what they did that showed one of those character qualities.
When you see a child showing a particular character quality, or trying to improve in any area, praise that quality! "You showed generosity when you let your brother play with that toy first! That was very kind."
What To Do Now
First of all, here's something else I am trying to do myself. I want to make opportunities for my children to spend quality time with me, specifically serve beside me, sit by my side and speak loving and affirming words to them while looking directly in their eyes.
And that's hard sometimes ... especially after there have been difficult circumstances among the family. Especially when we have been in the same space all year long! “Each of us has a primary love language,” Chapman told the New York Times. “The key is we have to learn to speak the language of the other person.”
Considering that things are sometimes tricky just being family, please say a prayer for each of those family members. One-at-a-time! And thank the LORD for exactly how He has made them! Learn from and appreciate the differences in each of you. Study the Love Languages and ask God to show you how to speak your family's Love Languages more.
Also, do you know what your love language is? Is there a test to learn those five languages of love? If you aren't sure, this quiz is a good place to start! You can even take a quiz to learn your love language.
To close, if you ever want to ask yourself, what is God's love language? Well, He made you. Pick one! ;-) He sure has shown ALL of the love languages to YOU! This fact is all over His Word. Take a look at the last two links and find out why Jesus is never quoted as saying the words, “I love you.” O_o
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
In brief, if you have ever felt like you just were not "enough" or thought you should be something different than you are, I hope I have shared with you some ways to please think again. And let me know how I can pray for you!