I haven’t been writing about my thoughts and questions about GOD lately. I’ve struggled to find the words to use. I’ve started countless posts only to trash them a few sentences in because the words that I was typing were not really the words in my head. I felt like all I could do was take a long, deep breath and wonder, “will I ever be able to figure this out?” For a large part of my life “figuring this out” meant finding the correct doctrine so that I could know the “right” things. I think that holding this view was really misguiding. As “correct doctrine” became my focus any understanding of GOD in a relational sense was pushed out of focus.
During my time away from the church I have been trying to relearn about GOD. This hasn’t been a very easy process. My understanding of GOD was so intertwined with my understanding of the church and orthodoxy that any negative aspects of the church would be reflected on GOD. So I’ve stripped away my understanding to a few things in hopes to discover GOD in a relational way. At this point if you were to ask me what I know or think about GOD my answer would simply be, “I think GOD is selfless, unconditional love.”
Earlier in the week I had a thought that centered around this thought. If you have spent much time in an evangelical church you may have heard of the book “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. If you haven’t heard of the book, let me offer you a quick synopsis: Love, as we express it, can be understood in 5 different ways-Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts, and Acts of Service. We often use one or two of these “Love Languages” as the ways that we express love to each other as well as the way we receive love from others. Sometimes conflict can occur simply because we don’t understand how the people around us are expressing their love. As an example, say the way that I offer love is through Quality Time yet my wife receives love through Acts of Service. I may assume that by offering my time to be with her is a loving thing, but for her, she may not feel love until I vacuum the house. Understanding Love in this way can help us show and receive love.
So when I was taking the puppy for a walk earlier in the week I had this thought that I need some feedback on. If GOD is love than GOD encompasses all aspects of love and the reason we operate out of only one or two of these five “love languages” is because we are aren’t living in the wholeness we were created to. (this is using the assumption that Dr. Chapman’s book is true and there are only 5 expressions of love.) After thinking about this thought for a while I started to wonder if we, as humans, assume that GOD loves in only one or two of the five languages? Some people only think that GOD loves them if they are receiving “gifts from GOD.” Their view of GOD’s love is limited to whether or not they are being “blessed.” Other people speak of feeling “GOD’s touch” as an affirmation that they living in communion with GOD. I wonder if we gravitate towards an understanding of GOD that shows GOD expressing love in the way we tend to receive it most OR we don’t feel GOD is expressing love because we don’t see it in the ways that we receive love.
When I read through “The 5 Love Languages” I learned that the way that I receive love is through Words of Affirmation. This is what the website has to say about this language: “Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, ‘I love you,’ are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.” This leads me to wonder if my struggle with understanding GOD comes from is that when I think back on life I don’t remember times in my life when I heard, from GOD, that I was valuable or that I was GOD’s son. I long to hear these words and no amount of “blessings from above” will make me feel loved by GOD as much as hearing these words will.
What do you think? Does this line of thought about GOD being the completeness of love make sense? Do any of you feel like GOD isn’t expressing love to you in the way that you naturally receive it? I posted a link to the 5 Love Languages website above. On the site you can take a short quiz if you’d like to understand your own love language.