Hope Uses Her Voice

One of the best tools to build relationships is the book “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman.

When we know our love language and the love languages of our friends and family, we can feed care into each others’ souls.voices-invisible

Recently, I discussed love languages with my son and reminded him about my primary language. “Acts of service,” I said. “I feel most loved when someone does something for me.”

Conversely, I often show love to others by helping them and doing kind things for them.

After a long month of illness, my love tank was pointed to empty. So I decided to tell my son exactly what I needed.

If we do not use our voices, we become invisible and our needs are not heard.

“Son, my love tank is empty.”

“Huh?”

“You know, acts of service and all that love language discussion we had. I need my love tank filled.”

“What does that even mean, Mom?”

“It means…after being sick for so long and eating nothing but chicken soup, grapefruit and cough drops, I think my body needs some iron. That means I need a really good hamburger – not the cheap drive-through kind of burger. My body needs a buffalo burger with parmesan garlic sauce and potato wedges on the side. Lots of wedges.”

“So…you need me to go to Buffalo Wild Wings and get you a burger?”

“Now you’re catching on. Don’t forget the extra wedges.”

An hour later, completely satisfied after a whopping burger and salty wedges, I realized how good food affects our moods. Not only did my body respond to the burger with additional energy, I felt as if I might be moving toward healing. Hope returned.

But to make that leap, I needed to use my voice.

If I had continued to fill the house with my pitiful moaning, slurping leftover chicken soup and begging God to take me to heaven – nothing would have improved. My iron content would have plummeted and my love tank remained empty.

But because I spoke my need and used my voice, my son had the opportunity to do a kind deed. He knew exactly what I needed.

Isn’t life easier when we know what people need? Yet we often sulk in our self-sufficiency, thus depriving ourselves and others of finding the resolution to our problems.

Hope responds to authenticity and when we speak our truth – we all benefit.

Let’s make 2017 a better year by exercising authenticity, using our voices and speaking our truth. Then we can help each other move toward more compassion, kindness and hope.

©2017 RJ Thesman, Author of the Reverend G Trilogy http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

 

Hope Finds the Right Apology

Maybe the reason we’re stuck within this national tragedy is because we haven’t yet found the right apology.

In their book, “The Five Languages of Apology,” Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas explore the differences between various apologies. Sometimes “I’m sorry” just isn’t enough because each of us comes to forgiveness via a different perspective.5 languages of apology

Express Regret is the type of apology we usually hear – when someone has done something wrong and says, “I’m sorry.” But often, that just isn’t enough.

A prime example was my three-year-old sister. We were fighting one day and although I was the older sibling, she whacked me over the head. My mother forced her to apologize, but all my sister could muster was, “I’m torry, tupid.” Not exactly a genuine apology.

Sometimes expressing regret is just too simple and carries with it no remorse for the wrong done. Therefore, it means nothing.

Accept Responsibility: This type of apology admits “I was wrong” and genuinely accepts all responsibility for the failure. No excuses given. No “but this is why I did it.” Just a simple admittance of guilt.

Make Restitution: Restitution shows a strong effort to make amends and right the wrong. It asks the question, “How can I make this right? What can I do to pay you back or to help you somehow forgive me?”

This is the type of apology Prison Fellowship works to initiate. Those who are incarcerated for their crimes work to pay back those they have wronged. As much as possible, they make a valiant effort to right the wrong.

Genuinely Repent: My toddler sister could not genuinely repent, because she wasn’t truly sorry. If given a chance, she would have thwacked me again. When a person repents, they desire to modify their behavior. They make a dedicated plan for change and take action steps toward that change.

This is not an immediate fix. It takes time and concentrated endeavors. It often involves trial and error to finally get it right – to break a stronghold, to change an addictive behavior, to make laws that are fair to everyone.

Request Forgiveness: This deeper type of apology goes beyond the easy “I’m sorry” as it asks for forgiveness and names the specific wrong that has been done. For example: “Please forgive me for dishonoring our friendship and betraying your confidence.” This is a combination of “I’m sorry” plus accepting responsibility and the accompanying consequences.

Most of us respond to at least one and maybe two apology languages. The tricky part is figuring out which one to initiate when we have committed a wrong.

The best way to do that is to be honest with each other and express the truth. Tell each other what we need to hear and the changes we need to see in order to truly forgive.

Using the right apology, even on a national level, seems like a step in the right direction.

©2014 RJ Thesman – author of the Reverend G books – http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Finding How to Love Mom

During a recent visit to Mom’s assisted living facility, I thought again about the five love languages. greeting card

In his book, Gary Chapman explains the love languages as: touch, gifts, quality time, acts of service and affirming words. When we know the love languages of those around us, we can better relate to them.

As I grew up, I never considered the love languages of my parents. But now that Mom is walking through the shadows of Alzheimer’s, I am looking for various ways to communicate with her.

    Finding her love language is one of my attempts to somehow make a connection with this woman I call Mom.

Gifts are definitely not Mom’s love language. When someone gives her something, she loses it and then accuses someone of stealing it. And even when she wins a Snickers bar at Bingo, she immediately gives it away. Her life no longer exists in possessions, so gifts are not Mom’s love language.

Touch has never been an important part of our family life. Although Mom will receive my hugs, she never initiates them. Touch does not work as a love language for my mother.

Affirming words might be slightly closer for Mom’s love language, but not for long. If I say anything nice to her, “Your hair looks really nice today, Mom.” Or “That color of lavender looks so good against your white hair,” she says thank you and then changes the subject. Or she gives me one of those looks that means, “You’re kidding, right?”

Acts of service. My family has always stressed a strong work ethic. We work hard, and we work for others as much as for ourselves. But performing an act of service for my mom would be empty and wasted energy. She would turn it around and want to do something in return for me.

Besides, what act of service could I do for her? Her laundry is taken care of at the facility. Someone else cooks her meals and serves them to her on beautiful plates. She walks to the salon to have her hair fixed. Her needs are all met.

The only love language that remains is quality time. This is the one way I can show her love, spending time with her whenever I can. Quality time means sitting in her apartment and answering the same questions over and over without becoming grumpy about it.

It means looking through the cards she has received and talking about the senders of those cards – old friends and new friends, relatives and church members.

It means walking around the pond with her and stopping frequently so that she can catch her breath. It means carving some time into a weekend and sitting with Mom even if neither of us has anything to say.

Loving Mom now means just spending time with her. And I’m glad to do it – while I can – before our time together finally ends.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1