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?

Thank You Brother

The sermon being preached from the stage was full of truth.  Yet in the back row of the auditorium a very different sermon was reaching deep into my heart.

I find it difficult to go to church alone, and this was one of those days when I had to do just that.  Strike 1 against my emotional fortitude.

Strike 2 came before I left home.  It happened when I asked God to open my heart and mind to worship Him fully.  He reminded me of some confession needed first.  As I sat before Him asking forgiveness the tears began to flow.  I want to repent, yet sometimes I don’t really want to. Help me Lord to live the words I say.

The final strike came while walking through the lobby at church and talking with friends who know me well.  They knew the right questions to ask to get to the point of how I was REALLY doing, not accepting the “I am ok” or “fine thank you, and you?”

By the time I walked into the sanctuary tears were gushing from my eyes.  I purposely sat alone in the back row as I tried to direct my heart and mind to worship. Another friend walked past and shared a  hug before going to find his family.  A few minutes later he was back and took the seat along side of me. I thanked him for being a good “little brother” to me when I needed one most.

If the story ended there it would be enough for me to experience Gods care through my brother in Christ.  But it doesn’t.

Last night I read a Facebook post from the wife of my “little brother friend” which I think put their names in my head as I fell asleep.  I remember a dream in which I was in a different location, walking on a country road to find a church.  This brother passed me in his van, and asked if he could give me a ride as he was also headed to this little church.  Once we got to the building looked like it fit more in the country side of Africa than the US.  My friend encouraged me to wait in the van while he would go in and check out the church.

Being the independent woman I am I did not heed my friend’s words but instead stepped out of the van right into a deep mud puddle.  My friend came out of church to see me literally wallowing in a mud puddle.  He lifted me out of the mud and set me on a rock.mud and rock  As I sat there drying off people with all kinds of disabilities came out of the church to check on me.

I don’t often put a lot of stock in my dreams. I do love how God gave me a foretaste of  today – when I needed to be figuratively lifted out of my emotional mud puddle and set back on the Rock of Jesus Christ.  When I shared my dream and got to the part about all the people with disabilities who were at the church he replied, “then we were at the right church weren’t we?”

Thank you God for my brothers and sisters. in Your family.  Thank you for Your Word that was fulfilled just a few short hours after I read it this morning.  “In times of trouble, may the Lord answer your cry. May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.  May he send you help from his sanctuary (italics added) . . . ”  Psalm 29:1-2a NLT