Sunday, December 15, 2013

Love languages and expectations

“…what fidelity is meant to protect is the possibility of moments when what we have chosen and what we desire are the same.”  -Wendell Berry, The Body and The Earth

Yesterday Dan was doing a little shopping online to try to fill my stocking on Christmas morning. He likes to think of his own creative ideas, and I am someone who likes to get the usual stocking things like socks, a toothbrush, lip balm, a pen, sticky notes.  In our family stockings are one of our favorite rituals and for Dan and I often the only gifts we buy one another in these lean years.  I said something to him about how much I would love a letter from him.  You see, I treasure hand written affirmation quite possibly more than anything else.  My own love language year round involves giving of small gifts often and written notes.  I know neither of these are the most common language for men, but I believe in a relationship it's important to share what we need or expect from one another.  So, I asked, and he rolled his eyes a little, and I felt a tiny bit sad.

This morning I woke much the same as any morning.  My body hurt so badly.  I moved oh so slowly from my bed to my "nest" chair in the living room.  My family understands the process I must follow to come out from my medication fog and begin to join into their activity. Every morning for as long as I can remember my husband has the kettle on and french press ready and brings me a cup of coffee just how I like it.  This morning was no different.  He set it on the table next to me and asked, "Honey are you feeling any better today?"  Then he headed back to flip some birthday cake pancakes he was making for the family breakfast.

I looked over at him and felt the biggest surge of love and gratitude. Service is his language to me. I don't need a single word written anywhere.  He pens this love moment by moment by caring for the girls and I.  He does laundry faithfully . . . every single day so there is never a back log.  He grocery shops every weekend.  He vacuums and loads and empties the dishwasher.  He works hard and now commutes much further to a job God has given him almost 6 years.  He doesn't make much money and much of it goes to our insurance premium, and he uses every possible day off in service to my health appointments and surgery and still when I ask him at night how his day was do you know he always answers the same.  "Lovely."  He doesn't have hobbies or really any friends outside our tiny circle.  He doesn't have toys like many men.  He is wholly dedicated to our family.

I was raised in a home with a dad who was also a theologian.  For a long time I had expectations about what a "spiritual leader" would look like.  As God brought me back to Himself during these painful years I sometimes wished Dan were other things.  I was wrong.  There is no other man in the world that could have or would have stayed like he has.  There is no other man who would have sacrificed all selfish ambition and pride to walk along side me in this journey.  I know for sure there is no other man who would have served so faithfully in the day to day.  This is Dan's love language.  This is his offering.  This is his calling and fulfillment in a world that screams something so different for most men.

My expectations are changed.  I am basking in Dan's love for me today.  I am grateful to God for giving us one another and keeping us together through challenge unspeakable.  I see Christ in my servant husband.  I will continue to leave him love notes and write blog posts and buy him small gifts, and he will make me a cup of coffee every morning, and we will know in the all the ways that matter most how blessed we are to have one another.  It's of course a mess over here sometimes because that's real life, but I find like in so many other important things it's the ritual and yes, the monotony I spoke of yesterday that shines the brightest to me now.  Day in and day out faithfulness is the greatest love language of all.

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