I don’t know if my family is not able to be bilingual or just won’t. It’s not like I’m asking them to know all five of my love languages. Just two. I’d even compromise if they could be fluent in one. I don’t need a lot.
In truth, I may confuse them slightly when I switch the ‘language of the day’ like the soup at the diner. But you know how it is, right? Your love language is physical touch until it’s not. And you say your love language is the gift of time until you realized you really wanted more than lingering over coffee just talking. And you could have sworn you really, really need the gift of affirmation and being told what a good wife and mommy you are until that changed and you just wanted to be served. For once, could someone bring you dinner or at least make you the cup o’coffee? I am quite fluent in my own love languages. A real Condoleeza Rice. But my guys don’t always get it.
Why does it feel so personal when my loved ones just can’t seem to speak my language? It’s not always my fault. Many times I am very clear on the ‘language de jour’ and I still get spoken to in the wrong language. Have I put these people that I love in an impossible situation, requiring them to speak so many languages that the odds of them getting it right aren’t really in their favor? Do I switch too fast? Do I require a different language from each person? I know I’m complex, but it’s not always my needs that are at fault. My languages are legit. But this doesn’t make me feel better when all I am wanting is for us to connect and act like the family that really ‘gets’ each other.
Here is a fail-proof plan I’ve used many times to understand the broken dialect of those who try to speak to you in love languages. Maybe this will help you in that one heavy moment of hearing the wrong language being spoken to you.
1. Listen to what their heart said.
If they spoke the wrong language that you needed, understand that they still spoke a language of love. I know there’s a big difference when you were prepared to hear, say, French and they spoke Swahili. It’s not the same. I know. But a love language was spoken. It wasn’t abusive. It wasn’t unkind. It was love. Don’t say the wrong love language was spoken. Say it was a love language. It may not have fit the bill, but can you hear what they did say and take the gift with grace? Do you know and understand the consequence if you don’t? Listen to the voice of God in whatever language they spoke.
2. Get a better translator.
I just happen to know one. He’s called the Holy Spirit of God and He’s kind of a professional in this area. In Acts 2:4-8, He showed us just how capable He is at this. Of all the languages being spoken, and of all the hearers listening, twice the Scriptures tell us every man heard in his own language. As the people began to speak (v. 4), the Spirit began to translate. By verse 6, the crowds are hearing in their own language. From the mouth to the ear, the Spirit of God took what was said, translated to fit the need, and the hearer was blessed. He can still do that for you. I’ve tested Him on this so many times. He’s quite an awesome translator and He even knows what you need better than you do. When handed a sweater when you really wanted time, or when given a hug when you really needed help, ask the Translator to do a miracle like He did at Pentecost. The supernatural work of God is as much on the hearer as the speaker. Maybe we don’t know our needs like we think we do. Listen to the voice of God as it’s translated by the Spirit of God.
While all this psychology of love languages is fascinating and educational, it’s not a biblical requirement. It’s a good tool. It’s good social development, but really, God didn’t command us to speak five love languages. He commanded us to speak one: Love. The calling card of a Christian is given in John 13:35 and it is simply to love. It can be, as some good minds have taught, composed of the five perceived needs. Be gracious and kind enough to know the work of God was being fulfilled when they show you, quite simply, love. It may not be packaged like you wished, but the gift itself is love. Listen to the voice of God on your own tongue as you give thanks to the giver.
Learning all about your love languages is the getting of wisdom, but learning how to listen to the language is understanding. Solomon has these words for us.
Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing: therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting get understanding.
Today, and many times in this household of men I’ve been blessed with, it’s Pentecost and I can hear the voice of God in any language.