In several conversations lately we’ve gotten on the topic of love languages. If you need a refresher, the “five love languages” are:
- acts of service
- quality time
- physical touch
- words of affirmation
I’m a fan of the concept of love languages – that is, that people both express love and feel cared for in non-universal ways. And that sometimes we think we are showing love for someone, but they have a hard time seeing it. Likewise that sometimes we may not feel that someone cares when really they’re just speaking to us in a different language.
While these five may be the primary or most well-known love languages, people have written about many other of their own love languages – silence, food, sarcasm, etc. I feel like there’s an additional one – and I’m not sure if it’s actually it’s own separate love language or an underlying component of love languages in general. Maybe it’s both. I’m talking about knowledge.
I know, it’s kind of weird, so let me explain. By knowledge I mean knowing someone well enough that you know their needs or likes or quirks and can respond to them. It means that you’ve paid attention to someone and taken the time to learn about them.
I went to a friend’s recently for dinner and – after greeting me with a big hug – she pointed at some of the food on the counter and said, “That has onions in it, but this doesn’t.” It’s a little thing, but she remembered my allergies and took them into account when planning the meal. If she had forgotten I wouldn’t have thought less of her, but the fact that she remembered made me feel loved.
In college when I would visit my family, my mom would occasionally hand me some Jelly Bellies or Lemonheads or Dots or some other candy she knew I liked. Often times she had seen it weeks beforehand in a store, thought of me, and bought it to give it to me the next time she saw me. Knowing specific things that I liked and wanting to make me happy with those made me feel loved.
I was at a restaurant eating a sandwich but all of the contents were falling out. So I had to switch my grip to cup the sandwich in my hands to keep it together. My friend watched at me with a mischievous smirk on her face. I stared back at her and her smile kept getting bigger and bigger. Finally I said, “You know I’m REALLY uncomfortable right now because my hands are getting dirty.” Unable to hold it in any longer she burst out, “Yes!” with a huge peal of laughter. Even though she was laughing at me, I felt loved because she knew me well enough to recognize and poke fun at one of my quirks.
Last weekend a kid came running up to me in Sunday school wearing his Minecraft t-shirt and creeper hoodie. On a scale of 1-10 my Minecraft knowledge is about a 3, but in previous weeks I’d asked him about it and each week since asked about his progress. So on Sunday this kid ran PAST the scooters and bouncing balls and zipline (yes, we have a zipline) straight to me because he knew that I knew he loved Minecraft and would ask him how his progress was going on building an animal hotel.
So yeah. I think knowledge is related to love languages. And regardless of whether or not we claim it as one of our top love languages, I think it’s one we all need to work on in the way we express love to each other. Because we all have a desire to be known to some extent – whether that means “knowing” that someone’s primary love language is words or “knowing” to not bring up someone’s father because of a history of abuse or “knowing” that someone is stressed based upon signs you’ve learned to recognize.
In college I did a Bible study with some women on a book called “Do You Think I’m Beautiful?” Whenever the leader announced the study in large group and said the title of the book, the guys in the room would automatically say “Yes” before she could finish the sentence. They were trying to be funny, but I wanted them to know that this book wasn’t actually about physical appearance.
Because even though every woman wants to be known as and told that she’s beautiful (it’s true), the book was about more than that. It was about how that question is rooted in the desire to be known. “Do you think I’m beautiful?” could also be translated, “Do you see me, actually see the REAL me with all my features and faults, and STILL accept me and love me?”
Because God does. In fact he’s the only one that really can. He knows the hairs on our head and which breath will be our last and how much that person’s innocent comment actually hurt you. Psalm 139 days that he knew us before we were born. He is the fullest embodiment of knowledge and love. He knows us better than we know ourselves and yet loves us completely.
I struggle with speaking the love language of knowledge. Because it requires listening and paying attention, and then remembering instead of letting myself be distracted and making excuses. Which is hard. But I think it’s important. And it’s something I want to work on.