Tag Archives: love

Book Review: Five Love Languages for Singles by Gary Chapman

9 Jun

When I started this blog, I decided I need to read as many books written for or about singles as I could. Years ago I read a few books that I probably will refrain from commenting on, because my memory is short, and all I remember is that I hated them. (When God Writes Your Love Story, I am looking at you.)

Side note: I’ve been hampered in this effort by the local library’s poorly developed collection of books on single life; there are six books on singleness in the online catalog, and one of them is Jennifer Love Hewitt’s book about needing to be in love. Yeah, seriously.

Anyway, the first book I read on this topic was Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages for Singles. It was probably a good book to start with, because Dr. Chapman gets a lot of things right.

For one thing, he didn’t write a book that ought to be subtitled: Why You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You or How to Get a Spouse. In the introduction, Chapman writes,

Married or single, young or old, every human has the emotional need to feel loved. When this need is met, we move out to reach our potential for God and good in the world. However, when we feel unloved, we struggle simply to survive. I am deeply convinced that the truths in this book will enable single adults to learn the skills that lead to loving and being loved.

But he’s not talking just about finding a spouse. His book acknowledges all the relationships in a single person’s life, from family to friends to roommates to coworkers, and, yes, to romantic relationships. Though there is a slight emphasis on dating and marriage, he doesn’t sideline all the other important relationships in a single person’s life.

In fact, in the situations he writes about where a single person wants to find a mate, he actually teaches them about the five love languages, then instructs them to try learning the love languages of their parents. This would seem to imply that Dr. Chapman knows singles are whole people regardless of our marital status, and that a romantic relationship might not be the most important one in our lives.

If you’re not aware of the five love languages, Chapman defines them as Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. I believe I’m a Quality Time person myself, but my mom is an Acts of Service person, and my dad, I think, is Words of Affirmation. Mom and I have discussed this, though, and neither of us is sure about his language.

Something I really liked about this book was that I could immediately apply what I took away from it. I didn’t have to wait until I was dating someone. Learning to speak someone else’s love language is useful whether you’re trying to win over a stubborn coworker, get a messy roommate to be more considerate of your neat-freak habits, or just show your parents or friends how much you appreciate them. Since reading the book, I’ve tried to focus more on performing acts of service for my mom, whether it’s helping her with her yard work or designing a logo for her new market garden business. We’ve always had a great relationship (my mom is my best friend), but I can honestly say I think it’s better now that I’m speaking her language.

Something else I like about the book is the chapter for single parents. I’m not a single parent, and I hope never to be, but I’m glad Chapman doesn’t overlook the fact that a huge number of people are either having children without ever marrying, or becoming the sole provider and caregiver for their children after a divorce. I had a friend and coworker my age who had three children, none of whom shared a father. It gave her some unique challenges to face. Love languages can be applied to kids and teenagers as well as adults, and Chapman gives clear ideas on how to do this.

Chapman categorizes single adults in five ways, and admits there may be other categories they fit. He writes about singles who have never been married, who are divorced, who are separated but not divorced, who are widowed, and single parents. He acknowledges just how many single people there are in the world today, especially in the United States (as of the book’s publication in 2004 he cited 4 out of 10 adults as single. I think we’re closer to 49% of the U.S. population now). And he makes it clear that we single adults matter to him.

I confess, Chapman also got points for quoting my favorite Christian scholar and writer, C.S. Lewis:

Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you love someone, you will presently come to love him. (Mere Christianity)

This has got me thinking, even more, about how I deal with some of those Christians I was talking about earlier this week. I need to remember, as Bird pointed out, that a gentle answer turns away wrath. And I need to act as if I love them, whether I’m angry at them or annoyed with them or not. And that will lead to me being a more loving person.

That can only be a good thing, right?

Love and Salvation

6 Jun

A while back I posted about my Christian Facebook friends making me cringe. I have to say, they haven’t really stopped…but a comment to that blog post has made me really think deeply about the situation. I am reevaluating how I respond to these people, and in the meantime, I have to confess…taking a look in the mirror at that point wasn’t very much fun.

Edarnut pointed out something that had never occurred to me before. She said, “If love for others is is the mark of a disciple, then to call a professed believer unloving is to call that person unsaved”.

Wow!

I had never made that connection before. I certainly never meant to accuse someone of not being saved. My intent was to point out an attitude we’re supposed to have–an action we’re supposed to take–and not to call someone’s salvation into question. And suddenly I’ve discovered that wasn’t how I was coming across at all.

And as I often tell my fellow Christians, perception is sometimes the most important thing. If people perceive Christians as hateful, judgmental bigots, they aren’t going to be interested in what we have to say. And by that logic, if I call out a brother in Christ for not loving, and he thinks I’ve just accused him of not being saved…well, he isn’t really going to be interested in what I have to say, either, is he?

In fact, Edarnut’s comment has given me a lot more than that to think about, but right now, this is what I’m focusing on. I need to learn to approach this conversation about love with a different attitude and a whole truckload of grace. I need to remember to spend more time trying to learn where that other person is coming from, instead of trying to tell her where she should be going. And above all, I need to remember that we’re supposed to love everyone…including the Christians we don’t always agree with.

What do you think? What do you guys do to show love to people when you don’t agree? I’d love to hear from you!

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself…as Long as He’s a Christian

29 May

Sometimes I log in to Facebook and immediately cringe. Not for the reasons you’re thinking, either. Not because of the guy who seems to do nothing but post pictures of hot, scantily-clad women. Not because of the girl who makes cryptic posts about being in a bad mood and then expects you to ask for all the details.

Nope. Most of the cringing I do on Facebook is because of my Christian friends.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my Christian friends. And I’m sure they love me, despite the fact that I’m not shy about speaking my opinion on social justice and Christianity. But the thing is, I’m not 100% sure they really love people who don’t agree with them. In the past few months, my Christian friends have posted Scripture and daily devotions, which probably don’t do much to reach non-Christians but are of value to fellow Christians. They’ve also posted links to petitions about gay marriage and abortion legislation, or personal attacks on the President, or criticisms of people of other faiths…which are probably all huge turn-offs to non-Christians.

The upshot is, a lot of my Christian friends don’t seem to feel very warm towards non-Christians. And this is a problem.

Look at Mark 12: 29-31: “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Or what about John 13: 34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

This is Jesus talking, y’all. And He’s telling us that we’re supposed to be easily recognized by how much we love people. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling disgustingly inadequate right about now.

One of the most important people in my life is a very intelligent woman with a background in science. She’s a great conversationalist, she’s incredibly talented…and she’s not exactly a Christian. Yet in conversations with her, I have learned more about my own beliefs and the short-comings of the church than I have while talking to many of my Christian friends. I’ve learned about her background and how she approaches the idea of belief. I’ve heard first-hand her questions about abortion and science. I’ve had some amazing discussion with her about why I believe what I believe, and trying to learn why she feels the way she does.

And I have to tell you, I feel like my relationship with this woman is more genuine, more productive, than my relationship with, for instance, a Christian friend whose daughter just went away to college and met a gay person for the first time. This Christian friend is suddenly forced to interact with a gay person on a semi-regular basis. And this Christian friend can’t seem to get beyond the issue of sexuality to see the actual person.

It’s hard to love someone if you don’t even see him as a real person.

I know I’m not perfect at loving people. It’s a struggle. Heck, it’s a struggle to love the members of my family sometimes, let alone people who aren’t as smart or educated or funny as I am. It’s a big struggle to love the big name right-wing folks that I feel are giving Christianity a bad name. It’s a huge struggle to love politicians, am I right?

But the first step to loving someone is realizing that person is human, just like I am.

In the meantime, anybody have an idea of what to say to my Christian Facebook friends?

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