The book by Gary Chapman called “The Five Languages” was revolutionary for marriages across the globe. People began to recognize how they wanted to receive love and how their spouse might be different than them. I have seen this concept change couples’ interactions and feelings toward one another in significant ways.
Unfortunately, the ideas presented in the book have not made it beyond the boundaries of marriage for many people. I recognized this recently when a person I know was accused of being unloving. I know for a fact that this person is a genuinely caring person. However, the more I probed the situation, the more apparent the definition of “caring” was being called into question.
The accused person views love through the lens of service and serving. They feel love when someone does some type of work that blesses them. This then translates into them prioritizing physical ministry for others above all else. For example, imagine you are feeling bad about some of the things going on in your life. This person will show up and mow your grass, clean your house, or watch your children.
The recipient of these gestures receives love through words of affirmation. What they wanted was someone to come and sit on the couch, sip coffee, and say nice things. They long for conversation and the time to connect.
You can see where this is heading. One Church member complains that another Church member is calloused and uncaring when nothing could be further from the truth. They are both just speaking different languages when it comes to caring. Neither one is correct in their definition, and at the same time, they both are right.
One challenge for the Christian community is understanding how we receive love and concern and how other people are trying to deliver it. That person you think is cold or unfeeling is probably trying to express themselves in a way you do not notice or feel.
My love for people may look different than the way yours looks. However, I care about people, and I express myself in my unique way. True community is found when we accept and embrace that fact with each other.