Rob Hughes Contemplations for Lent #2

Love Language – Physical Touch.

Touching in the right way, to the right person, for the right reasons can be a really powerful message of caring, friendship and love. Accidental touching, or inappropriate contact, can be so easily misunderstood – so we need to take great care!

That said, people who respond to this love language can readily feel cared-for and loved through handholding, hugs, and snuggling (so this is by no means ‘all about’ about making love to our intimate partners). Actions such as these can be perceived as trustful acts of care and affection, even for those who may not regard this as their primary love language. Physical touch is the most direct way to communicate love. It is crucial for the health and well-being of every human being, at birth, throughout life, and when dying.

And time and again it’s been proven that the love and companionship afforded by pets – simply stroking a dog or a cat, for example – can calm and soothe even the most over-active of minds!

Jesus often used touch to make a point (even though he didn’t always have to do so) – in order to heal suffering, or to comfort those who needed sympathy; and also in greeting His friends.

  • We see evidence of ‘touching’ in Luke 7, when Jesus was approaching the city of Nain; walking past a grieving family, he was moved to help – and touched the bier of the dead man, and brought him back to life.
  • There is an account in Luke 4, when Jesus took Simon’s mother-in-law by the hand “and lifted her up, and the fever left her”.
  • On another occasion, when the children came to Jesus (Mark 10), we hear how “he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying hands on them.”
  • Jesus was sensitive to touch, as well. As He gave the gift of healing (mentioned previously under Gifting) to the woman who had endured years of haemorrhaging – we’re told (in Mark 5) ‘Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realised that power had gone out from him….

Touching as a love language is, arguably, the most individualistic even though (potentially) the most easily misunderstood of all of them. It’s so intimate – and there’s a time and a place to adopt it, or refrain from doing so – depending on the person and circumstances. When practiced in the right way, for the right reasons – a simple squeeze of the hand, or gentle hug are powerful reminders of love and affection, as well as powerful comfort for loneliness, fear, anxiety, headaches, cuts and bruises, through to romantic love and family life. Certainly, biblical to my mind…

Love Language – Words of Affirmation.

In terms of these ‘love languages, words of affirmation – encouragement – take on meaning way beyond mere flattery. The confidence and well-being of most of us can be reinforced by simple words of thank you; our lives can be changed by affirmations of ‘well done’; we can learn from each other by even sharing truths that may be difficult to say or to hear, but need to be aired.  We can show love best by trusting those-we-love to respond in the same way – with trust and love

Whatever we say, that’s said in good faith, we ought, as Christians, to respond-to in good faith. And in a family and romantic sense, our partners and loved ones would surely like to hear, simply, ‘I love you’ and ‘thank you’ now and again – in person, or through leaving an impromptu voice message or a written note with sincere words of kindness and gratitude – and love.

Jesus often spoke words of affirmation to large groups of people, and to individuals.

  • We first see this when he spoke about his cousin, John the Baptist – that he is “more than a prophet,” and “among those born of women there has arisen no one greater.”
  • Other examples of this love language happen in Matthew 12 when Jesus outstretches his hand toward his disciples and tells the crowd they are his family
  • Or in Mark’s Gospel when Jesus tells a dinner party that the questionable woman “has done a beautiful thing” when she anointed his feet with her tears and expensive perfume.

And words of affirmation spoken of Jesus and His ministry, rather than by Him, give us confidence in ourselves and in the Faith:

  • In whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him (Ephesians 3).
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4)
  • For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power, and love, and self-control. (2 Timothy 1)
  • And a particular favourite of mine: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3)
  • And finally:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The whole context of the Gospel message is summed up for me in John 16, when Jesus said these words of affirmation to his disciples (as He says to us today): I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

No matter what, and the Gospels affirm, we are loved, valued and supported by Him!

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