Jerry N. Duncan, Ph.D., ABPP
I am not sure why I saved this love language for last. My best guess is that it is because it probably is my least-valued love language. I know it has value, even to me, because I have felt a little of the “sting” of missing out on an expected gift on a few special-event days in previous years.
It is at the top of the list for some people. And, it is important to understand that if we are going to love people well, we need to learn to be multi-lingual in the way we express that love.
I was reading today that Gary Chapman who wrote The Five Love Languages studied human anthropolgy throughout the world and discovered that gift giving was a part of every love-marriage process he studied. It appears to be a universal, fundamental expression of love.
Gifts appear to be perceived by some as visual symbols of love. You have to be thinking about someone to create or buy something for that person. The gift becomes the tangible expression of that thoughtfulness. Thus, the expression, “It’s the thought that counts.”
The thoughtfulness it takes to be a gift-giver will require more discipline and effort if it is not high on your own list of love languages. Brent and Janis Sharpe of Tulsa, Oklahoma, created a service on www. mensreminders.com, to send an e-mail reminder to subscribers to help remember birthdays, anniversaries, and special days for those needing the assistance.
Thinking back on gifts your partner has been obviously excited about (whether you gave it to them or someone else did), can give you a place to start. Ask friends and family members who really know the person you want to love better. Get ideas from them, and make notes about what you learn.
As Chapman says, gifts can be purchased, found or made. Remember, it is the thought represented by the gift that makes the gift have value as an act of love. You had to be thinking about them to consider what tangible way you were going to demonstrate that love. It is them knowing you were thinking about them that is really the “big deal.”
Sometimes the gift will be the gift of your presence. It can be incredibly powerful to be physically present during times of crises, especially if the person you are showing love to has a primary love language of gifts.
I have heard the statements, “Insight alone is worthless. It is acting upon what you know that makes real change occur.”
Equipping ourselves with knowledge about how to love others well and then acting upon that knowledge does not make love contrived or mechanical. It makes love effective.
Do not hesitate to ask your friends and family members how you can best love them. Sometimes you will discover their primary love language by noticing how they love you or others. We do tend to love others the way we would like to be loved.
Remember when Jesus was asked what was the greatest directive from Scripture? His response was interesting. Instead of identifying “#1” on God’s “Top Ten List,” Jesus gave the man more than he asked for. He said all of God’s directives could be summarized in two commands- “Love God, and love others.”
Let’s begin the good work of that simplified summary of our purpose for being here.