When I was younger I was overly sensitive in my dealings with others. This hypersensitivity caused me to become offended easily and to refuse to show love to anyone I felt slighted by. Needless to say, this attitude brought about only more pain and it was only once I discovered that I was at fault in these perceived issues that I have been able to enjoy better relationships with others and healing from the Source of all healing.
The story of the Pharaoh of Egypt and his refusal to free the Israelites had become my own in how I viewed others and their interactions with me. I had always found it so easy to judge the pharaoh’s obstinate heart, but how easy it was to see the speck in his eye through the beam in my own. Like the great ruler of Egypt, I refused to set others free to love in the way that they showed loved. Instead I wanted people to love me only in the way I wanted it from them.
I disregarded the differences we have in humanity. I wanted everyone to be just like me and to come to me where I was and speak in the language of love that I spoke. I never thought to learn the language of others. I never thought to love others in the way that they preferred.
And so there I was—a modern day Pharaoh with countless people as slaves around me—unable to be freed from the restrictions that I placed on them because of my obstinate heart. I judged them harshly in my hurt. I felt like they were wrong for not sharing in my love for them, but I began to see the truth. I saw that they did love me, but I was unable to see it due to my own self-centeredness that only focused on my own feelings and treatment of others.
I started to see the errors of my ways after I heard about The 5 Love Languages. This is a theory that each one of us can be fit in to five various manners of both showing and receiving love. These can be broken down into: gift giving/receiving , words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, and physical touch. Basically, people tend more to show love by these languages or feel loved the most through these languages.
My wife and I discovered that these languages fit and make sense in our own relationship opening up our eyes in how we can show love to each other in a way that best expresses it for the other person. Of course we realized this at a good point in our marriage after a few years of me giving her words of affirmation (my love language), hoping for the same from her, and she performing acts of service (her love language), hoping to receive the same from me.
We had no serious issues in our cycle—my showering her with words and her showing me her love with service—but, knowing that I need to do more work and she needs to tell me more words of affirmation has been helpful for our marriage. However, it also helps me understand my wife more and not allow myself to feel unloved when my love language is not spoken. I understand that my wife is only human and it is not always easy to speak in the love languages of others.
I cannot help but apply this understanding of love in my relationships with others. There must be a way in which my children, friends, co-workers, and even strangers on the street love the best and feel the most loved. I can’t expect everyone to treat me in the way that I most desire, but I can look for the way that they love and enjoy their love through that language. Furthermore, I can try to discover how they best feel loved and speak that language to them.
Doing this allows me to set others free from the restrictions that I placed on them. It helps me to understand how others have different temperaments and share love in various styles. I find that I have better relationships with others since discovering this.
In this discovery, I have further improved in my relationship with the Lord. It was not only human persons that I had placed my restrictions on, but I had tried to fit God in a jail cell as well. I put him in a cage in which I only saw as love from Him that which I defined as love. He was enslaved in this way as I would not allow for Him to show me love in any other way than I demanded.
I began to understand that God does not always show me love in the way that I expect it. Sometimes He has grander ways to show me love outside of my perspective and even my comfort zone. Sometimes he shows me love by calling me to leave the Shire (my comfort zone) and serve others to find the joy that I was made for.
By opening up my understanding of how others can show their love and affection differently, I have been able to appreciate and accept the love of others spoken to me in their variety of ways. Like the many colors reflect the same light, I see how God’s Love is at the source of the Love of others and thank Him for it.
Being open to the many languages in which others communicate their love has allowed for true freedom to be granted to those around me helping me to savor instead of confuse the love they show me. I am no longer a Pharaoh in my relationships, demanding love only in the way that I want to receive it. I have set others free from this bondage and now enjoy the milk and honey of truly good relationships.