Have you heard of Gary Chapman’s 5 love languages (I mean, who hasn’t at this point)? I read the book sometime during college. I wasn’t nuts over it: I found the book itself a bit too cute/schmoopey—the sort of thing that makes you groan or make fake gagging noises while reading.
The idea, though, is a really helpful one, and because I enjoy categorizing myself (yeah, yeah), I had fun trying to pick out my love language. For a while, I thought my (receiving) love language was a tie between “physical touch” and “quality time.” Not so much. Though I actually think many of the “quality time” characteristics/categorizations (people listening to you without interrupting, spending long periods of time with one special person, etc.) are things that pretty much any introvert likes.
No, my love language is very definitely “words of affirmation.” It just took me a few years to figure it out.
Basically, this means that I experience love most readily through positive words, which is actually very helpful information—I’ve become more conscious of how I react to different situations (grades/feedback, criticism), and of how I function in relationships. I’m also more aware of the dangers inherent in being someone who longs for affirmation—I have to be careful about my motives. I’m a people pleaser, which isn’t always a bad thing, but isn’t a totally good thing, either. I’ve become reasonably adept at self-affirmation—last finals week, I built myself a paper chain of encouragement. It was awesome.
Saturday’s post on Dirty Sexy Ministry (a fun, insightful, kickass blog) was titled “What we all would really like to hear,” and the author included a list of phrases she really likes to hear. Yes! It’s like she read my mind. I don’t even know what I’d add to the comments section.
Now, I’m blessed to be surrounded by a lot of affirming people. My parents are really good at this (thanks, Mom and Dad). My academic community rocks—the support I’ve felt from colleagues and professors is really out of this world. I don’t know what I would have done without this support network (thanks, friends).
My church community is great, too (thanks, parish)—in fact, #1 on the Dirty Sexy Ministry list reminded me of my most recent Monday night at EfM. I’d jogged and showered just before leaving for church, and because I’ve grown comfortable with my little gaggle of fellow EfM pilgrims, I didn’t bother with makeup, and did nothing to my damp hair but run a brush through it. And you know what those lovely people did? They told me I looked really pretty. They complimented my hair.
This is finals week for me. I’m very aware of my desire for affirmation at this time of year (e.g. the paper chain of encouragement)—I’m wrapping up the semester’s work, giving and receiving grades and evaluations. I try to use this awareness as a reminder to affirm others—to send an encouraging word/note—because I know that even the smallest word can make a difference.
Do you know your “love language”? How important is affirmation to you? What words do you most need to hear? How do you affirm others in your life?