Monday, April 6, 2015
When Love and Life Change You
Love languages have always stumped me. Just when I thought I knew which one was more accurate for me, it changed. So I thought maybe I was wrong all along. Can something like that change? Or is it a constant?
I thought about it a few weekends ago when the kids had been so sick. For nights my sleep patterns were in 1 hour chunks, my wakings punctuated with sheet changing, laundry running, bleach. I woke up on Saturday morning having slept all night and my first thought was "Oh thank goodness. They must be better. They slept all night long!"
But then I noticed my husband wasn't beside me. I tiptoed downstairs and saw him there on the pull out couch, curled around our still-sick little one. I quickly pieced the entire thing together as he woke up. "How long have you been down here?" "Since just a little after you went to sleep. She woke up and I knew you were tired, so..."
In that moment, it might have been the most loving thing I had ever experienced. Certainly something that never would have made my top ten list of romantic gestures years ago. I suppose it stands to reason. I've changed. My life has changed. My stresses and strengths have changed over the years. It stands to reason that the way love speaks to me, the way I receive it's various expressions is quite different than it was in earlier times. I don't doubt it will change again as my family grows and my life changes again and again. In that moment, a full night of 8 delicious hours of sleep when I needed it the very most felt like a mountaintop proposal with a multi million dollar ring (something that doesn't appeal to me at all, for the record, but you get the picture, yes?).
I never thought I was an acts of service person, but having someone reach over and take my burden like that was nothing short of epic love.
When I was younger, I thought I was a Physical Touch person - and then I had kids. Year upon year of being crawled on, nursing 24/7, cuddled all night, wearing babies all day - it made me reconsider that because I get touched out. I get to a point (usually around bedtime) when it's nearly unbearable to me to be touched. So I wondered if maybe that's no longer my love language. Maybe I was so saturated by it that I got a little sick, like the Monday after Easter when just looking at a jelly bean makes you nauseous.
Instead, I'm finding that it very well might still be my love language - but in a changed way. I stay up late knitting and sewing for people I love and cherish, wrapping yarn around needles thousands of times, wool sliding through my fingers, touching every stitch that will wrap my baby or child up warmly. Could that be a physical way to love? I think maybe it is.
At various times in my life, different expressions of love and care have meant different things to me. I think that's how it goes. Saturation is a real thing and can put you off for a bit, while a lack of one sort can make it more of a treat than it felt before. It's just another way I'm seeing that relationships can never be "set it and forget it" or "follow the formula" or "wash, rinse, repeat." Like a growing, living organism, they require constant attention, flexibility and acceptance.
But that might be what makes these expressions so meaningful. When one can look into the circumstances of another today, see their needs and meet them - that's true love. Not a stamped on love language label based on a test you took in high school, but a real life, living, breathing love with a real life person.
Maybe today, I'm an Acts of Service person. Maybe tomorrow, it's Words of Encouragement. Life is one day after another of finding new ways to love and serve others where they are. Where you are. That kind of love demands fluidity held together with purpose. That kind of love necessitates relationship and attention.
That kind of love is the real deal.
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