When you first get married or engaged everyone talks about the Love Languages book. It’s probably one of like 15 books people try and throw at you to prepare for this thing called marriage (in which I probably read .5 of them, meaning half of one book out of the 15). But after a few years under our belt, we realized this whole love language thing has merit. Who knew?
We discovered that Daniel and I have some majorly different love languages. I love words of affirmation (I’m still trying to explain to Daniel what that actually means). He loves lots of cuddles (I’m still trying to force my tired arm over to his head to play with his hair while he falls asleep). We often miss the mark in both of these areas. Daniel is pretty terrible at affirming words, and I’m just not the most cuddly person ever. So, both of those take work on our parts to help the other person feel loved. BUT, our salvation is that we discovered we have one love language in common – Quality Time!
If you think about it, quality time is really important to any good relationship. If you never spent time with someone, how would you get to know them? How would you ever learn their quirks, their interests? How would you get to know the person that they are without being there to listen to them? If Daniel told me every single day how awesome he thinks I am, what a great wife I am, and how much he loves me, yet never spent time with me, I wouldn’t feel loved at all. I would actually scoff at his remarks that while they are true, ha, he doesn’t actually know me well enough to observe such things.
The same could go for our kids. If you always told them you loved them or bought things for them, but never were around them, never talked to them, never listened to them, then would you really know them? Would they know you? Showing up is a big deal.
It’s almost like we understand this concept to be true with our spouse, kids, family and friends (and we have to make an effort in these areas of showing up too!), but when it comes to God, we don’t think it applies. But, how we will know Him, be more like Him, feel close to Him if we never spent time with Him? I think the days of me half-heartedly sending up a hail mary prayer before starting the day aren’t cutting it anymore. He needs more of me, and I need more of Him. I honestly cannot be the wife, mother, daughter, worker and friend that I need to be without quality time with my Heavenly Father who while I’m not enough, He is.
We all know how very flawed we are and how much we want to be less like our selfish selves and more like Christ (just me?). We all want a closer relationship with Him because at the end of the day we know life is better when He is first. But how do we do that? I think as we get older it gets harder to make the time. We have work demands, home demands, wife demands and if we have kids, well, forget it. I think, for me, it’s about going back to the basics, the stuff we learned a long time ago, but need to re-learn and reapply to my busy life. Here’s what I’m making a commitment to do in 2017 as I create new habits that make me a better mom, a better worker, a better spouse, and heck, better all around.
1. Spend time in His word. If when you first got engaged, someone handed you your future spouse’s life story , journal and manual, wouldn’t you read it cover to cover? The Bible says that all scripture is God-breathed, alive and active. It’s literally God speaking to us. Have you ever read the same verse in different times of life and got something totally different out of it? I think that God reveals different Truths to us through our time in His Word. We get to know the character of God and of Jesus through reading Scripture, and He speaks to us through it too! The world is constantly trying to lie to us, and knowing the Truth and trustworthiness of God’s Word makes all the difference in the world.
2. Spend time in prayer. Be real with Him. He already knows you down to the number of hairs on your head (do extensions count I wonder?) so just be you. Talk with him like you would talk to your closest friend. Do you feel frustrated, tell him! Do you feel joyful, sing a song of joy to Him. We don’t have to fake it with God. We can be ourselves because He knew us at our worst, knows us at our worst, knows all of our flaws, our mistakes and failures, and He loves us anyway. So with that kind of freedom, just be yourself and spend time talking to Him.
3. Spend time with other people who know Him. God loves the church, and wanted that for us because we were meant for relationship. Ryan Britt, a pastor at our church, once said, “Our sinful nature will pursue isolation ever chance it gets.” I also heard an analogy one day that compared us to coals. If we all stick together, we stay lit and burn for hours. But the moment you take one coal off the stack and set it by itself, it stop burning and goes cold. So, spending time at Worship with other christians, spending time listening to sermons from super smart pastors who have degrees and stuff from their intensive Scripture studying, and spending time hanging out and doing life with other people who love Jesus are essential. It will fill you up and fill you with joy as you are closer to His family, and closer to Him.
And, let me put a disclaimer on this, it’s NEVER about doing more things to earn favor with God. Doing steps 1, 2, and 3 will not make me a more awesome Christian or put another jewel in my crown. It will simply draw me closer to the only One who can fulfill all of the desires in me, and the only One who makes His power perfect in all of my weaknesses (which are MANY). He is the only One who can make me ENOUGH to fulfill all of the many roles I now play in life. Making quality time for Him isn’t an option for me anymore, it’s crucial.