I am sure most people have heard of the 5 Love Languages and understand the importance of giving people love in a way that speaks to them. However, this Christmas season, I was made aware of the importance of also receiving love from others in a way that demonstrates your love for them.
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The first instance came when I was out Christmas shopping with my sister. She mentioned how disappointed she had been the previous year when her gifts had not been received with the kind of enthusiasm she had hoped for when she had spent time and effort to come up with something meaningful and special. It had left her feeling hurt and unappreciated when the entire situation should have been and could have been filled with the giving of love and the receiving of love.
It is so important for us to acknowledge other’s expressions of love towards us, even when it’s not necessarily done so in our particular love language. Even if we don’t see the particular “gift” as something we particularly care about, we do need to receive it as an expression of love. We need to acknowledge the love that is being expressed and shared. We need to express gratitude and appreciation in a way that shows how much we realize the love the item was given with. This doesn’t only apply to expressions of gift giving, but all the various forms of communicating love.
I think about people who don’t like hugs or can’t accept a compliment or rush to leave planned family activities. Those people tend to miss out on many forms of love that are being offered to them. In essence, they are not realizing the art form of receiving love as love, rather than simply the act of a word, or time, or physical touch.
We are just as apt to hurt people by not receiving their form of love expression as we are to hurt them by not giving various forms of loving acts. I guess I noticed it the most during Christmas because we are surrounded by so many different family members who love in completely different ways.
This Christmas alone, I witnessed people running from hugs, rushing out the door when people were still wanting to interact, an apathy towards the gifts received and a refusal to accept help with something. The person on the other end was simply trying to demonstrate their love and it was simply rejected.
Next time someone offers an expression of love, take time to consider how your receiving of that love speaks just as loudly as your giving of love. You might be surprised at the message you are sending when you neglect to receive with as much graciousness as you give.