Many moons ago, I learned that my “love language” – the third of five identified in Gary Chapman’s book – is unequivocally and clearly, words of affirmation.
While the other four languages, quality time, acts of service, gifts and physical touch have their own special meaning in my life, what really means the most to me is a sincere, thoughtfully expressed remark.
One of the sagest pieces of advice I’ve ever received falls along these same lines – say what you mean.
I can sniff out the angle behind a “compliment” faster than you can say “phony.”
But a genuine word of appreciation, especially one that reflects observation and forethought, that can fill me up for days on end.
Lately, whenever I do something “mom-like” for my son, he’s taken to uttering the phrase, “Hey Mom! I like you, and I love you.” Not that I’ve done anything grander than open up a package of fruit snacks upside down (the way he likes them) or let him use my keycard to open the preschool door (apologies to all the nice moms and dads who’ve held the door open for us only to have me politely decline). But for whatever reason, he’s effusive about his gladness over these very simple gestures.
It cracks me up and charms my heart and makes me sad all at the same time for its fleeting innocence.
I like him and I love him right back.
I also know there will come a time when the seemingly simple lines of like and love are blurred in a way that leaves him hurt and confused. If we’re doing our jobs as parents right, that emotion will first be directed squarely at his dad and me. But eventually, it’ll be this weird and wonderful world that leaves him blindsided and bewildered, just as it’s done to every other adult in the history of all people.
When that happens, my prayer is that he learns far earlier than I did to feed that love language with Scripture – the most affirming words ever written.
Although I was raised in the church, managing my love language in this way has never been second nature. As a result, the “highs” I experience from worldly words of affirmation are ephemeral at best.
Their common thread is personal validation. I matter. I am relevant. I bring value and worth to what is around me.
But I don’t feel it in my bones unless I dust off my NIV bible, the navy one with the leather cover and my name monogrammed in the bottom right hand corner, and I actually read.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
It stands out to me because it is the very essence of verbal affirmation.
I matter. I am relevant. I bring value and worth to what is around me.
And so do you.
Take this time, the month when Vacation Bible Schools abound and time slowly lulls down into a laid back summer pace, to feed your spirit and that of your children, with the words of affirmation that matter most.