Saturday Story Time: Love Languages; Acts of service

Saturday Story Time: Love Languages; Acts of service

This is week four on my series about the books by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell titled “The Five Love languages”. The overall concept of this book is that we all give and receive love in different ways. They have it broken down into the following; Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. All four of my children have a different love language. Jessica, my only daughter’s in physical touch, Christian my youngest boy is words of affirmation. John, my second oldest, and in many ways the most challenging, has acts of service as his primary love language.

John became a part of our family when he was five years old. He is from Liberia, Africa, and is what I like to call, my little old soul. He has survived a civil war, malaria, losing his father to typhoid fever and being diagnosed with Glaucoma causing him to become legally blind at the tender age of six. There have been many operations, countless Dr.’s visits, and all we have been able to do is maintain the limited vision he has. This has greatly effected his personality and how he gives and receives love. If you add to this reactive attachment disorder, and post traumatic stress syndrome you have a small glimpse into his world.

John is the most independent, stubborn, strong-willed survivor I have ever known. He is incredibly intelligent, hard-working and a perfectionist. Words mean very little to him. He accepts love through physical touch, but does not willingly give love this way. Through the years, my husband Scott and I have come to the conclusion that his love language for both giving and receiving is acts of service.

This is not my love language, it is the lowest on my list of the five choices. It has been a strong learning curve for me as I have navigated how to express my deep love for John in a way that he is capable of understanding. For John, the act of service must be un-requested, if he has to ask for it, then it is not love on my part, it is an obligation. The authors put it this way “Loving service is an internally motivated desire to give one’s energy to others. Loving service is a gift, not a necessity, and is done freely, not under coercion.”

If John wants to apologize, or communicate his love to anyone in the family, it is through acts of service. He will get the firewood, clean all the dishes, take care of the dog, he will work harder than any of the other three kids combined but you will never hear the words “I am sorry,” or “I love you” come out of his mouth. This has not been an easy journey with him. I am a hugger, a talker and emotive person. He is quiet, hard-working and all his communication is done in action. If he is mad, nothing gets done, he will not even eat the food you make him. If he is happy, he would climb the highest mountain to get you a berry for your salad that you can only find at the top.

I have learned to not ask him if he wants something, I simply do it and then let him know it has been done. My best ways of communicating love to him in a way that he is receptive, is quiet acts of serving him without drawing any attention. Making him a sandwich, and bringing it to him while he is studying. Folding his clothes, and separating his socks from his brothers so he does not have to. Sharpening all his pencils while he is at school. It is nothing, and it is everything.

Loving another person is never easy. Communicating that love in ways that both of you understand is difficult at best, but the results are amazing. On the days with John when I do not expect him to love me with words, I can accept his un-loading of the dishwasher as clear as if he had shouted. Other days I want him to change, and to try to love me how I want and need to be loved, with words and hugs. I am still learning, and as John matures, and becomes more secure in his knowledge of our love for him he may eventually, actually say the words. That reminds me, I need to go get him some chocolate chip cookie dough.

Next week: Isaac and Quality Time


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