I love you!
What am I talking about? What does that mean?
Today, the word “love” has been pretty watered down.
I LOVE pizza, sunrises, milk, hamburgers, and babies. I also love flying, mountains, indoor plumbing, and my wife.
Here’s a problem: Should I say that I love cheese in the same way that I say I love my wife?
How do we use the same word for food that we do for a person?
So here’s how it looks; I love pizza, I love a fuzzy blanket and I love my wife. What do I do in response? I eat it. I feel it? Well maybe for the first two. The third, and most important, one demands action and communication. Things like patience, kindness, not envying, keeping no record of wrongs and always protecting.
If you’re communicating something, it makes sense to speak in a language that can be understood. When I studied abroad in Indonesia, there was a little two-year-old child at one of the homes where I stayed. The fun, and humbling, part was that I finally found someone who I could communicate with on the same level of language proficiency. (In reality, the child was much more proficient than I was.) It was a great relief to be able to understand what was being said and use my few words to plumb the depths of my poetic “hello” and “thank you!”
So, this love language thing is a pretty big deal. Get it wrong, and you’re in for some trouble. I heard of a culture where one must scratch the beard of those who you wish to show affection. (Not sure how you show love to a woman unless you go to the circus.)
My wife recently shared that she thinks my way of showing love is by standing next to her while she washes the dishes. I think that is a little harsh, because I see it differently. I think of it more like an awesome little puppy who follows you around because he thinks you’re the greatest thing since churned butter.
A little while ago, we were sitting at the table and I said, “I love pizza.” My daughter said, “Pizza is my boyfriend.”
“Excuse me?” I said.
“It says it on my socks!” she responded.
“Excuse me?” I said again.
“Giggle, giggle, giggle.”
Obviously, one cannot show that kind of love toward pizza. I may love pizza but there’s no way anyone could marry their pizza! We just altogether misuse the word in English. And we don’t say it enough to the ones who mean the most to us.
About a year ago I started a fun back and forth with my son. I’ll yell out to him wherever he is at the time and I’ll say, “Who’s the boy that I love?”
Then my boy, with a fist punch to the air, yells back, “I am!” One of my favorite dad moments was when I came in from the farm and he ran to me yelling, with his fist in the air, “I’m the boy that you love!” I cheered back and in the manliest way possible we roared into each other’s faces. My wife laughed and observed that boys have such a funny way of showing love. If I didn’t smell like a cow, the next step would be to tackle my growling boy to the floor for a good wrestle. That’s true love… I don’t think my wife would feel the same.
The point to all of this, is that we each give and receive love so differently that we can unnecessarily find fault with one another when really we’re just communicating with a language that doesn’t make sense to the person listening.
So, the question is, do your voice and actions communicate the love that you claim? I know what I need to do. Work on my “quality time” love language for my wife; and that doesn’t include time in the kitchen.
We need more than a month to figure this out – so here’s to a good head start. Happy early Valentine’s month – Let’s get out there and do it right!
Meet your farmer – Jonathan Gerdes. He and his wife run a farm-to-table raw milk dairy in Caledonia, Minn. If he isn’t in the barn, you can find him dating his wife, playing with his kids, leading youth group, or flying in the sky. Visit gerdesfreshfarm.com for more info.