Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Love as a Way of Life by Gary Ghapman

I don't know how many of you have read The Five Love Languages but it is one of those books that belong in every library. My sister handed it to me while I was engaged and told me I couldn't get married until I'd read it. Both Hubs and I did and we refer to it often. "My touch tank is low," or better, as a mom, "I need giving touches, people have been taking them all day!" It was even our standard wedding gift for years.

Now Gary Chapman has a new book out that expands on the principles of loving. As he said in his new book, Love as a Way of Life, "I had made the assumption that if people know how to express love effectively, they would be eager to do it. I now realize that assumption was wrong. Love languages are important ways to communicate love, but without a basis for the love languages, our words and actions are empty." I think he's right.

Below you will find an interview with Gary Chapman about this topic. And after you've read it, leave a comment. I have an extra copy of Love as a Way of Life to give away. I especially encourage a certain subset of people (you know who you are) to comment. Because if, say, I were to lead a study this coming year, this is the book I'd plan to use.

1. Describe some of the everyday situations that can be changed if a person has a foundation of love.

When love becomes the focus of ones life it will change every encounter we have with people. In the family, the husband is thinking, “what can I do before I leave for work that would be helpful for my wife?” Such thinking may lead him to take the trash out, put his breakfast plates in the dishwasher or feed the baby while his wife takes a shower.

In the workplace, employees are asking, “on my break, what might I do that would help someone else?” They will also make time to listen to a co-worker who seems to be having a hard time with a personal issue.

At the bank, post office, or cafeteria, the lover will look people in the eye and smile, perhaps opening the door to a conversation. They will express interest in what is going on in the lives of those they encounter.

The focus is not on “it’s all about me.” But, rather on “It is all about others.”

2. What is the take-away message of Love as a Way of Life?

Love as a Way of Life is designed to help the person who sincerely wants to make a positive impact in the world. I believe that is ‘most of us.’ Our biggest problem is that we don’t know how and we keep getting tripped up by our own selfish ambitions. The purpose of the book is to help us break free from the prison of selfishness and come to experience the satisfaction of truly loving others as a way of life. It is little acts of love that build up to a lifestyle of service.

3. Why do you need a foundation of love before you start figuring out our love languages?

The five love languages give information on the most effective way to express love in a meaningful way to a particular person. But, if you are not a loving person – don’t have the heart or will to focus on others – the information is of little value. Most of us must make a conscious change of focus from self to others if we are going to genuinely, and consistently enrich the lives of others. Love as a Way of Life is designed to help people make that change.

4. When did you realize the need for this book?

I first recognized the need for Love as a Way of Life when in a counseling session a husband said to me, “I’ll tell you right now, if it is going to take my washing dishes, and doing the laundry for my wife to feel loved, you can forget that.” I had just explained to him the concept of the five love languages and that his wife’s primary love language was ‘acts of service’ and that these acts would deeply communicate his love to her. I realized that he lacked the will to meet his wife’s need for love. He was locked into his own perception of what his role was to be and it did not include washing dishes and doing laundry. I knew at that moment that there was something more foundational than simply knowing a person’s love language.

5. What are the seven characteristics of lasting love?

I view love not as a single entity, but as a cluster of traits, which if developed will enhance all of life. These traits are:

Kindness: discovering the joy of helping others

Patience: accepting the imperfections of others

Forgiveness: finding freedom from the grip of anger

Courtesy: treating others as friends

Humility: stepping down so someone else can step up

Generosity: giving your time, money, and abilities to others

Honesty: caring enough to tell the truth

6. Why do you think it’s so hard for people to embrace these characteristics?

All of us have some of these characteristics to some degree. Most people see love as being better than hate. But most of us are comfortable to live somewhere between love and hate in a lifestyle that is fundamentally focused on self. We feel good when we are making money, accumulating things, gaining status, but in time these things do not ultimately satisfy what I call the ‘true self’. The true self longs to make the world a better place to live. To do something to help those less fortunate than we.

However, we all suffer from the malady of being ego-centric. I call this the ‘false self’. It is that part of man that pulls him to focus on self-preservation and a self-centered lifestyle. This is not all bad. Indeed we must meet our own physical and emotional needs in order to continue life. It is when we never get beyond this self focus, that life becomes a ‘dog eat dog’ world where everyone is out for self even at the expense of others. Such a life never brings long-term satisfaction. However it is often later in life that people discover the emptiness of selfish living. I’m hoping that Love as a Way of Life will help people discover the satisfaction of developing the ‘true self’ earlier in life.


mommy4life said...

This so sounds like what God has been working on me with....

Making life about others and not about me....(and not just my ankelbiters either).

To look for the good in the now and be genuinely interested in others and their lives.....

Mr. and Mrs. Nurse Boy said...

O.K., I'll bite! Sounds like a fantastic book AND a great Bible Study (wink, wink)! I am always looking for ways to love and be loved.

Mr. and Mrs. Nurse Boy said...

Opps, that was Mrs. Nurse Boy.
I don't think the Mr. would EVER type "wink, wink."

mommyofmany said...

Sounds like a great resource for our current family study on the character quality of love... especially as it pertains to siblings. :) Thanks for sharing!

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