At the request of some of my youth group kids, I am going to TRY to post some of my youth group lessons here. Probably not consistently, but hey, when have I ever been consistent with blogging!?
When we talk about love languages, we are not just talking about Oooo La La love. We are talking all types of love. Love is found among family, friends and those of interest in the opposite sex.
Many times you will hear people say love is not a feeling, it is a choice, action, decision, etc While this is true to some extent, we all know we must feel something also! There are people you meet and you just click (as friends or more) and people who just rub you the wrong way. I don't believe that every single person was made to be close friends with every single other person (friendship is different then treating people respectfully no matter what!). Sometimes it is a personality conflict, other times a misunderstanding or problem with perception on either part.
I had this experience vividly with one woman. When we were in the same Sunday School class it always came across to me that her answers were better than any others. She would respectfully let others answer then it always felt like she had to address their answer. I got to the point where I would avoid certain classes because she would be in them. I realized this was only hurting ME and not bothering her a bit so I prayed and got the feeling I was supposed to get to know her better. WHAT! So not the answer I wanted! I wanted to hold on to my negative feelings! After much time and an attitude change on MY part, I now see her heart. She AGREED with the answers given by others and was simply adding her thoughts. Maybe not the same way I would, but not belittling as I had perceived it either.
Opening myself to God on this did two things, it made me rethink how I view people and not be so quick to judge base on my initial impressions. I may still end up with people I simply don't click with, but I TRY not to view them judgmentally or negatively.
All of that to say, be sure to examine what you are bringing into each and every relationship and start recognizing how that plays into the feelings of "love" you have. Bring it to God. Give Him your negative feelings and ask for Him to open your eyes to the positive things about those people. Take your positive feelings to Him and ask Him to guide you in this and show you areas of concern if this is not a relationship He wants in your life.
So as we enter a few lessons on love languages, we need to think about why we desire love; what love looks and feels like for us in different relationships; and how we give love naturally. if we are expressing our love to someone one way but they don't receive love that way, we both miss out. They feel unloved, we feel unappreciated and misunderstood and frustration and anger often follow. This is a huge part of the breakdown of any relationship.
We were designed to seek relationships. Our creator declared that not only did He desired relationship with us, but we were to desire relationship with each other. In Genesis 2:18 the Bible clearly tells us "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone I will make a helper suitable for him.'". In Genesis 3:8-9 we are told "Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, 'Where are you?'". He was actively seeking Adam and Eve. Desiring to interact with them. And He didn't design us to only seek relationship with each other in a romantic way, but true community with others. 1 Corinthians 1:9-10 tells us "God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so there may be no divisions among you and that you might be perfectly united in mind and thought."
From our desire to seek relationship comes a desire to connect. We want to interact with others in a meaningful way. It leads to our desire to pray and connect with God and our need to talk, some more than others! Mark 12:33 says "To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all the burnt offering and sacrifices." WOW! This implies a desire to connect on a deeper, more meaningful level. This desire gives us the power to demonstrate acceptance and friendship or the power to harm others with our rejection. This is a powerful tool in today's world.
In addition to wanting to connect, we want to take care of others, and be taken care of in return. Philippians 4:19, "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." This isn't just holding hands, scratching someone's back or rubbing their feet (which are all wonderful things!) but true nurturing of all needs, physical and emotional. It drives mothers to feed, shelter and clothe their children, fathers to provide and people in general to truly care about the people around them. Think of and share some ways you feel compelled to nurture those around you. Is it different for family, friends, etc?
We need to feel important or special. Our self-worth or self-esteem comes into play. When we believe that others do not find us valuable (true or not), we start to believe that we are not valuable. As we recognize this need in ourselves, we should begin to recognize the need to fill this need in others. Choose to uplift and encourage others, even when you don't feel like it.
Questions to ponder:
1. What is love to you? Why do you have that view of love?
2. Have you had times where your first impression of someone (either positive or negative) was skewed by what you bring into a relationship and later that impression was changed? Would you share why you think caused the first impression and what triggered the change?
3. What is your first thought when someone says love? Does something in your history figure into your perception of love? Do you think your view of love is healthy or unhealthy? Why?
4. Everyone is at a different place in life, remembering that there are no right or wrong answers, do you feel like your need for connection is seriously lacking, okay, pretty well taken care of, or kinda spotty (Good in some areas, lacking in others)? How can you fix any problem areas?
5. Everyone connects differently. What does connection look like to you in relation to your family? Friends? Church? (Ex: Hanging out, playing games, watching TV, eating meals, conversations, Bible Study, etc.)
6. Just like we all feel connected in different ways, we all feel nurtured or the need to nurture in different ways. What does that look like for you? Is it different with the different people in your life? If so, why?
7. The dreaded self-esteem! Where do you stand? (Low, middle, high) Good in some areas, struggling in others? More importantly, do you share that with others, seeking their help in boosting the lows and viewing the highs objectively? Why or why not?
8. What if anything, really touched you about this lesson? Why?
As you can tell, the above lesson was directed at my youth group. I am pretty much including everything and encouraging the people who read it to really think about it. If you feel comfortable commenting, answering questions, etc. Feel free! I will gladly read those comments! I look forward to seeing what you think!