I think most of us have at least heard of the 5 Love Languages. They are ways in which we communicate love and receive love from the people in our lives. The 5 love languages as described by Gary Chapman in his book series, The Five Love Languages, are Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. We each have a dominant or primary love language that we “speak”. When there is someone we desire to express love to, whether a family member, a close friend, or another person, we tend to do so using one of these five languages…the one that feels most comfortable to us. As recipients of love, we tend to feel loved the most when someone speaks to us in our own primary love language. The Five Love Language series does a great job at teaching about each language, and how to communicate love effectively by learning to speak the primary love language of the person we wish to express love to. I support the idea of learning to speak each of the five love languages for a couple reasons. First, to indeed learn to communicate love in meaningful ways. The second reason, and the purpose of this blog post, is to become familiar with the five love languages as a means to recognize more abundantly when love is being communicated to us. An expression of love has two parts, the giving part, and the receiving part. Just as when two people who originate from countries of differing languages attempt to communicate, there can be misunderstandings or miss-connections when people of differing primary love languages attempt to communicate love. Love is a connector; the authentic giving and receiving of love, connects us. Connection returns us to humanity; it returns us to who we truly are, individually and collectively. Learning to recognize when love is being communicated to us increases the amount of love we feel, and connects us with the giver even when the language used is not our primary language. The intent of the giver is to communicate love, and I don’t think we want to miss that. Communicating love authentically in one’s primary love language can be vulnerable and scary. In doing so, the giver offers us more than love; a deeper view into him or herself, into the fibers that constitute his or her being. What a beautiful gift for someone to share with you and me, a view into themselves. What a great loss if we do not recognize it; if we miss both the love being extended, and the opportunity to see the giver as part of his or her authentic self.
In recognizing an expression of love, we must remember that there are different kinds or levels of love. An expression of love or kindness can be as simple as offering a smile or holding the door for someone, which may not require the level of vulnerability as more intimate expressions of love. Nonetheless, they are both expressions of love…connection. They says, “I see you.” “I see your need and I can help.” Being seen is enough to feel loved sometimes.
It is unfortunate that we, on a large scale, wait for something to give us a reason to connect. A few recent examples; 9/11, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and other natural “disasters”. I put disasters in quotation marks because on one hand, they physically do make a mess. On the other hand, these natural events put us in a place to choose great triumph, and choose triumph we do, every single time. We choose to bring ourselves together…we choose to connect to ourselves and to our shared humanity. We return to a place of love, caring, compassion; we empathize. What beautiful gifts. What if we chose to see our shared humanity every day? What if we chose to connect with the humanity of the person checking our groceries at the market, or the people we pass in the isle, even that smile will do, or a hand on the shoulder in appreciation, or a genuine “thank you” with eye contact.
I invite each of us to become more familiar with the five love languages, especially the ones that are not our primary language. Let’s begin to look for even the smallest expressions of love in our daily lives, then identifying which language is being spoken. As we do so, I believe we will feel more loved, and be more inclined to see opportunities to share love in even these small ways in the ins and outs of our days.