The Clash of Our Love Languages

We had had a couple of long months. Preparation for one of our largest ministry events of the year took much of my emotional strength. Jerry was representing the ministry at a significant conference in Washington DC that same weekend. At home, my mother was in her ninth year of living with us. She did not need physical care from me, but looked forward to us being home to talk with her and offer companionship. I wanted that too, but didn’t always have the bandwidth to offer.

And so it was, that we woke up early Sunday morning, the day after I spent all day ministering to a large group of ladies. Jerry got home late from DC that same day. Mom was leaving to travel with my sister. I saw Mom off and crawled back in bed. Almost immediately the tears began to flow. It did not take long for them to become full body sobs.

Jerry, still lying in bed, gently asked me what was going on, did I know? I don’t recall what I said right then, but he held me as I wept. The truth was, I was done. I had given all empty-glass-3299156_1920my social, emotional, mental, physical and even spiritual reserves and I was empty. I had no reserve to help myself or anyone else.

With a deep level of compassion, and probably a little fear and trepidation on his part, Jerry calmly said, “It will be ok sweetheart, we’ll get through this together.”

That was the final straw! The last tiny piece of my emotional dam broke loose and I cried, not in my most loving wife tone, “Sure it will – easy for you to say because you know I will eventually get up and get you dressed, but who is going to take care of me?”

While Jerry wanted to assure me he would, he knew this was not the right time to offer those words, so he remained quiet.  Later he told me he thought, “Oh crap, she’s right!”

This was not a failure to communicate, but, a classic love language clash.  Words of encouragement do not translate into acts of service.

A short time later I rose long enough to get Jerry up and dressed. He asked what I wanted for lunch. I made it clear that I did not care, he could figure it out. I rolled back over to cry and sleep some more.

Jerry put on his coat and went out the door to get in his van to forage for food.  Having just returned from DC the driver’s seat was still in the van, meaning he could not drive.  Because of their late arrival home Jerry told his friend who drove that he did not have to change the seat out because I could do that in the morning. This was that morning, and my loving husband was not about to come back in to ask me to do that.

He checked his wallet again, and did not have enough cash to order food in by delivery. Considering the options, Jerry started to roll up town to a Wawa, knowing he could get both cash and food there.  (If you are not familiar with Wawa, it would be worth your while to go on their website and plan a vacation to a state that is blessed to have them).

Being a wise, experienced husband, he filled the bags as full as he could carry with a variety of sandwiches, salty treats, sweet surprises and anything else he thought I might like. Then he rolled home, and cautiously entered our room. I was oblivious to how long he was gone; a good hour to hour and a half.

Almost as if he were approaching a den of lions (which I am sure is how he felt with the way I had reacted so far) he sort of tossed the bags of food to me and told me I should have any or all of it that I wanted. If there was anything left he would eat that or figure another plan.

snacks-2199659_1920I believe protein, salt and sweet have never tasted as good as they did that day.

Jerry tried his best to love me, by holding me and offering soothing words of comfort. That did not speak love to me as clearly as I needed to hear it then. The time and energy he put in to serving me by gathering food, spoke volumes to me of his love.

We now look back on that day and laugh, though at the time there was little to find humorous. In hindsight, I was burned out. I had given to the point of having nothing left to care for myself.  Jerry’s care for me was the start of healing.

We learned a lot that day. In the weeks that followed we made some changes. No longer would we leave the driver’s seat in the van, it needed to be always ready for Jerry to drive. We made sure he had the neighbor’s phone number in his cell phone so he could reach out for help. We established a certain level of cash we would always keep on hand in the house just in case we had a need for an emergency delivery. Finally, we became note-415143_1920more aware of my needs and the cues when I needed a break. Jerry will point out when he thinks I need to take a day or two to spend some time on me.

What was one of the hardest and lowest days of our marriage, became one of the best.

Do you know what your love language is? What about your spouse’s language?  You can learn more about love languages here.  http://www.5lovelanguages.com/gary-chapman/

How has knowing each of your love languages impacted your marriage?

What Does Joy Look Like to You?

Joy verticalGrowing up, JOY was a vertical word to me.

“Jesus and others and you, what a wonderful way to spell Joy. Jesus and others and you in the life of each girl and each boy. J is for Jesus for He has first place. O is for others you see face to face. Y is for you, in whatever you do, put yourself last and spell Joy.”

The song’s message was clear (or so I thought) – I am not important. There came a time though in my adult life, when that became a real problem for me, I had totally abandoned the idea of taking care of myself because it was all about Jesus and others.  Joy horizontal

I realized I had to change my visual of JOY.  I tried looking at it horizontally, but ended up at the same point – myself last.

 Rereading Scriptures I had previously misapplied (e.g, Philippians 2:4), I now see JOY as a set of gears. As my relationship with Jesus functions properly, it empowers me to move in right relationship to others while also caring for myself.  Now that is JOY!

 

Gears