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Words of Affirmation

Thursday, June 16, 2011
About a week ago, I was coming out of my closet when a white dress shirt, with thin blue crossing lines, of Michael’s caught my eye and flooded me with thoughts about his sweet love languages.  About 7 years ago, I read a book by Dr. Gary Chapman called The Five Love Languages.  I was leading the single mom’s ministry at my church and had decided that this book would be beneficial for us to study to enable them to better meet the needs of their children.  The five love languages are the different means of showing love to someone that can directly and successfully make the person feel loved, when using their love language.   

These languages are physical touch, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and words of affirmation.  One day, prior to my in depth study of the book, my dad and I were alone in my breakfast room talking about Michael’s church attendance.  Michael went to church every time the door was open… Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night.   The kids were younger then, around the ages of 5-11.  When we took them to night services, they would go to bed at least two hours past bedtime.  On many nights, I told Michael I felt like the children needed to stay home and go to bed in order to get a good night’s rest.  He said he was going to go on to church because, “Babe, I just need it.  He came home to a house of sleeping children told me how good the service was and I listened to him share any deep, spiritual thoughts that were spurned on by the sermon.  

When my dad asked, “Why do you think he feels the need to go all of the time at night?”  I told him I didn’t know.  He gave me an answer that opened a window for me to see and understand Michael Barranco with a fuller view than I ever had before.  He said, “I think it’s because he is getting affirmation.”  The sermon, the Word of God being spoken, the fellowship of believers, and the music all fell into words of affirmation in his “love tank”, as Gary Chapman calls it.  He not only needed words of affirmation from me, but needed it from God in a tangible way.

 Until that point, I had not even realized that “words of affirmation” was one of his love languages.  I knew physical touch, that is a given.  Even though I had always been good with writing things down, I often had a hard time affirming face to face.  I am not sure why.  I think maybe a little shyness or embarrassment because he always surprised me with his responses.  He got so excited and giddy and happy as a young schoolboy.  He then teased me in a sweet way for being embarrassed about what I had said.  He held me while looking into my eyes with a smile and a little laugh and say, ”You’re so funny to me.” He would then hug me and sometimes say, “Oh Angel, I am so glad God gave me you!  What am I going to do with you!  

My love languages are quality time, physical touch, and acts of service.  The love language that Michael was best at giving was words of affirmation. (This should have been a huge flag to me that was the way he liked to receive it as well.)  He would say to me, ”Boy, I would have it made if your love language was words of affirmation!  He was good at affirming me, the children, and just about anyone else with whom he came in contact. We both had to work at giving regular doses of the preferred love language. 

Soon after the conversation with my Dad, I started looking for ways to affirm him with compliments.  He glowed when I simply thanked him and appreciated him for working so hard for the family. One morning, (not too long before his death) he put on a new dress shirt he had just bought at The Rogue, (the white one with thin blue crossing lines.)  It had a high collar and he looked so handsome in it.  It made him look strong and so Italian.  I told him I liked the shirt and that he looked handsome wearing it.  With just a tinge of embarrassment, he replied, “Really?  Thanks, Babe!  A couple of days later, I noticed a bag from The Rogue in our closet.  In it were three more dress shirts, of different colors, made the exact same way. 

I remember thinking how sweet that was and how true the theory is of speaking someone’s love language.  Because I met his “love tank” needs, he was refueled to meet mine.  We were not successful at this all of the time.  I found a note a couple of months ago in his catchall drawer that I had written him several years ago which he had saved.  In the note, I pointed out that, at that moment, both of our love tanks were running low.  I said it is hard to love someone when your own tank is empty, and yet, how can the other person treat you with love when their tank is empty?  I gave a proposition in the note.  I said, “Let’s start speaking one another’s love language at the exact same time.”  That is exactly what we did.     The love you give is more unselfish when it is one that stretches you out of your comfort zone, but the rewards are great.


Anonymous Says:
June 16, 2011 at 9:16 AM

What a great post-so many times we think we are encouraging someone when actually they aren't receiving much because it is in our love language and not theirs! I am so glad that you gave this very practical example from yours and Michael's relationship. Lord, help us to pay attention to the love languages that others around us need and give us the grace to be able to speak it so that You will be glorified!

Julie Barker Hanna Says:
June 17, 2011 at 8:14 PM


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