Physical touch is a love language that I struggle with. I love to cuddle my grand-babies, but in the adulting world, I am not known to be a big “hugger”. You know the kind of person I’m talking about–that opens her arms and hugs every person with abandon? Yeah, I’m not her, but I have come to realize that there are those in my life who need an affirmation of my love through physical touch.
Not long after my father-in-law passed away, my mother-in-law said that one of the things she missed very much was his physical touch. Now, let me tell you, this woman is a pray-er, and while she felt God’s comfort and God’s presence, she still missed having the close intimate connection that marriage brought, so she started asking God for HUGS. Not from Him, of course, but in a simple prayer of faith, she was asking God to bring someone her way often–someone who could brighten her day with a hug. Do you believe that God answers even simple, personal prayers like that? I certainly do, and so does she. And guess what? Every time it happens that someone surrounds her with a hug, do you know who she thanks? She is thankful for that person, of course, but she knows that every hug is an answer to her prayer from a loving heavenly father.
Saying “I love you” is one thing–showing it takes it to a whole other level. They might hear me say, “I love you”, but when your children see you love, are you demonstrating the kind of love that is sacrificial–or superficial? When life gets real, what is the evidence that you are choosing to love? When you are in a long line at the grocery store… When you’re running late or dreading going somewhere… When they make mistakes–and you react instead of respond… Are you patient and kind or selfish and judgmental?
1 Corinthians 13 paints a beautiful picture of what unconditional, unrelenting love looks like:
Love is patient, love is kind.
Love does not envy,
is not boastful, is not conceited,
does not act improperly,
is not selfish, is not provoked,
and does not keep a record of wrongs.
Love finds no joy in unrighteousness
but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
…Now these three remain:
faith, hope, and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
Gary Chapman, in his book, The Five Love Languages explains five different ways that we show (give and receive) love:
Gifts —- Words of Affirmation —- Acts of Service —- Quality Time —- Physical Touch
While most of us will notice one or two areas that we can identify with, the goal is to recognize in others how they give/receive love and strive to cover whatever method demonstrates love to them.
Several years ago, I wrote a blog post titled “Four Gifts I Wish I Had Given My Children”. One of the things I mentioned was “More Affection.” I can easily say that one of my most prominent love languages from this list is gifts. I love to create things, and I especially love to create things to give to others. The truth is, while that is all good and noble, most of those gifts will be forgotten. What I hope is not forgotten is that I gave them out of love. I can be known as a giving person, but if I don’t give love, the Bible says I am missing the point.
Having a godly character does not happen by chance or even by good behavior. Godly character comes from within. When we spend time intentionally focusing on the One who wants to fill us with His Spirit, it is then He who enables us to live and walk in a way that demonstrates love in a godly way.
God does the work in us when we look to Him for the perfect example of love in action.
Look back to Chapter 2 of Philippians where Paul gives a tangible way to walk in love:
“Focus on one goal: Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
While we may not love perfectly, we can point our children to the One who does.
Stay in the Word and let Him be your Guide. If we want our children to have a godly character, they need to know Him. They need to see what it looks like to have a relationship with Him. Even in our weakness–and despite our shortcomings, God can and will enable us to live in such a way that others will see Him–and His love in us.