I recently read The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman. My wife bought it for me to read while she was reading the original Five Love Languages by the same author. In reading it, I found not only what I believe my children’s primary love languages to be, but also my own. I could be wrong (I’m a little biased), but I believe my primary love language to be ‘words of affirmation’.
This isn’t a bad one, not that there are any, but it does have it’s drawbacks. The main one being the need to have positive re-enforcement for what I do and say. (Facebook, which I am taking a break from for Lent, feeds that need with likes and comments.) It also has the drawback of the ill effects of negative feedback/criticism. The most (potentially) devastating issue with this is my chosen avocation (or calling, if you will) – ministry.
My pastor (who is also my mentor and one of my best friends) always says that anyone in ministry has to be able to not take personally the good or bad comments, that you have to be comfortable in who you are and how God sees you, and that has to be enough. I get what he means, but it is a little difficult to have this deep-seated desire to feel appreciated, and know that what I said or did actually mean something to someone.
I still don’t think my wife gets it… I’m constantly annoying her, asking for feedback: “Was that okay?” or “Did you like it?” or “Should I do anything differently next time?” It’s not her fault, it’s hard to really get someone else’s love language (especially when she hasn’t finished her book — wink-wink).
I don’t know what it’s like for people with different primary love languages (or even other people with the same one for that matter), but it seems that this is a really bad one for someone with lots of insecurities, especially when it seems like it should be really easy to say: “Thank you!” or “I really liked that.” or “That really meant a lot to me.” Again, it seems really easy to someone who speaks ‘words of affirmation’ fluently.
There are also times that I perceive some of the positive feedback that I do get to be false or somewhat hyperbolic – which I abhor! I’m not sure there are too many things I detest more than brown-nosing – either toward me or anyone else. (I’m kind of an expert in this matter, having prided myself as an incredible suck-up in 8th grade.)
I still have a lot to work through on this (obviously) and welcome the thoughts of others that have gone through similar struggles.