Author, Love Is a Verb (Bethany House 2009); Other books include The Five Love Languages
Sr. Associate Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC, since 1971
B.A., Anthropology & Bible, Wheaton
M.A., Anthropology, Wake Forest University
Ph.D. Adult Education & M.R.E., Education Administration, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Dr. Gary Chapman: The Language of Love
LOVE IS A VERB
Best-selling author Dr. Gary Chapman has written over 20 books since 1979. His popular book, The Five Love Languages, has sold five million copies in English and has been translated into 36 other languages (including Arabic and Hindi).
The Five Love Languages are:
1) Words of Affirmation
2) Quality Time
4) Acts of Service
5) Physical Touch
Love Is a Verb has 40 true stories of love in action. It puts the "Love Languages" into practice. Written by everyday people, there are love stories that talk about everything including marriage relationships, adult children caring for elderly parents, a person’s love for a stranger in need, and a woman who learns to love her young neighbor.
We are all familiar with society’s view of love as a feeling. This feelings-based love can only last for two years. Real love is not based on feelings. The common view of love thinks love starts with feelings and everything else will follow. Real love begins with an attitude, then actions, and the feelings follow – the common view of love is backward.
Dr. Chapman says, “To last for the long haul, love has to be more than something we feel. It has to be something we do. We have to demonstrate it concretely in our marriages and families, among our friends and acquaintances, and yes, even among our enemies.” Love is an action word; it’s a choice you have to make.
Here are a few of the stories:
Tim counsels disabled veterans. One day, Tim asked his wife Tamara if she remembered Tony, a charming, small, skinny man in his late 40s. Tim continued to tell her that Tony had HIV and relocated to Denver (where Tim and Tamara are from) as a result of Hurricane Katrina. He had been homeless, very sick, and was living in subsidized housing with practically no furniture; he was sleeping on the floor. Tamara knew she had to do something, so she decided she had to buy Tony a bed. She felt driven to help him and love him “lavishly.”
She had helped others in need before, but nothing to this degree. Tim and Tamara delivered the bed to Tony, who was overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion. Then, Tim and Tamara’s friends and family also gave Tony money, furniture, and other household items. Another day, the group threw him a birthday party.
Tony began to get sicker. One week, he had to go to the hospital multiple times with no transportation or any family to help him. Tamara decided she would continue to help Tony, but he wondered why she was helping him. She told him that God knew that he needed someone to love him and walk with him through this time.
They found out that he also had lung cancer, and he only had six weeks to four months to live. Tamara urged Tony to call his family. He finally called his sister, Cynthia, who took him home with her to take care of him. He died shortly after.
Tony’s family included Tim and Tamara’s family photo in his funeral program with the following words: “We could not have had a better family than you to take care of our beloved Tony. Saying thank you is not enough!” The lesson in this story is sometimes when we take the risk to love someone lavishly; it can change our lives and others’ lives for the better.
DRINKING MILK WITH A SPOON
Doris and Duane were blessed with a 47-year marriage when Duane died. After his memorial service, Doris’ friend Kathy asked, “How did you and Duane manage to have such a loving and close family?” Doris found that she
was receiving this comment from others at the service as well. She remembered a time when her marriage wasn’t
One winter evening, Doris realized that her love for her husband no longer existed. Duane, her husband of 11 years at that time, was drinking his chocolate milk with a spoon. He did this because it helped him limit his chocolate milk intake to just one glass. It wasn’t only the clinking that bothered Doris; she realized she found him difficult to live with. They married young, had three children, and decided divorce was not an option for either of them. Upon pondering more about her marriage, she had a sudden urge to get out a pencil and paper and write out a list of her husband’s faults. When she finished, she only had five negative traits on the paper. She tried to add to the list but couldn’t. On another sheet of paper, she wrote out Duane’s good qualities. This list was long and included many characteristics that attracted her to Duane in the first place. Doris saw this and thought that Duane was a good man and wondered why she felt so hostile toward him.
Then, she made a list of her own good and bad qualities. She found that her good qualities list was only slightly longer than Duane’s bad list. She then wondered why Duane was married to her. She decided to read Duane’s good qualities list several times a day and worked on changing her behavior. She soon gained a new respect for her husband and she treated Duane better. He treated her with a renewed love and respect…and even stopped drinking his chocolate milk with a spoon! The lesson in this story is to put faults into perspective.
THE GIRL WHO PIERCED MY HEART
Barbara worked at a Christian university and volunteered to greet new students coming in for the Fall Semester. This is when she first saw Angela. Angela had her head shaved except for one long purple lock that hung in front of her eyes. She wore bib overalls that were too big for her and scruffy army boots. She had multiple piercings on her body, and she had a dog collar around her neck that matched the chain that hung from her front pocket to her hip pocket. Barbara thought to herself, 'How on earth does this punker think she is going to represent God looking like that?'
For that first quarter of school, Barbara saw this girl everywhere she went on campus. Barbara noticed Angela sat alone at lunch most of the time. One night, Barbara went to dinner with her husband and saw a homeless man. She refused to make eye contact with him. Then she was reminded of the Bible passage, “…Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40 NIV).
Barbara struggled with the issue of loving the unlovable as she went to sleep that evening. She woke up in the middle of the night and felt that God led her to the Bible verse 1 John 3:17 (NIV) “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” Barbara realized she was being a hypocrite.
The next day at lunch, Barbara struck up a conversation with Angela and ate with her. After that, Barbara began to eat lunch with Angela several days a week and greeted her when they passed each other on campus. Before long, Barbara did not notice Angela’s outward appearance. A month later, Barbara noticed Angela’s appearance was changing. Angela took out her piercings. Barbara and Angela’s friendship continued to grow and Angela made more drastic changes: she let her hair grow out, went on a mission trip, and started wearing skirts. One day, Barbara asked her what made her change so drastically. Angela responded, “Well, I figured if I could look weird and you could love me like that, then I know I could look normal and other people would accept me too.”
This friendship didn’t only change Angela, it also helped Barbara learn to love the unlovable and become more compassionate toward the ones she had judged by their appearances. When we learn to love despite the outward appearances, we can find a hidden jewel.
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