This week we are talking about the love language: acts of service …. Hmmm … Isn’t that the definition of a parent. 🙂 It does encompass quite a bit of our job. But as our kids get closer to become adults we can show them love by by teaching them how to do these “acts” themselves. I was not completely successful in doing this with my first born but luckily for my second born, I’ve had more experience! (You may be able to hear her saying “are you reading ANOTHER book?”)
“Love feeds children when they are little but teaches them to feed themselves when they are teenagers” p.104 “The 5 Love Languages of Teens” by Gary Chapman
Acts of Service is my daughter’s love language, so I learned a lot about her this week. Not just in filling her love tank but also in recognizing when she is showing love to me.
Filled tank example:
Katie was sick with influenza last week. On the first morning at home I brought her medicine upstairs to her room and she rolled back over in bed after swallowing it. I began gathering all the clothes and towels etc. scattered about her bedroom. My main focus was on sanitizing everything and not spreading the germs. I continued into her bathroom gathering trash and actually scrubbing the bathroom (after I uncovered the counters). As I think back on this, I realize that until 2 years ago in this Moms of Teens class, I did this on a regular basis. It was part of my regular acts of service in our house. But then I learned that I had to teach the kids to do it themselves and “let go” of micromanaging it. (mostly) or being annoyed by the lighter standards (okay..sometimes it still bugs me but I keep my mouth shut…but since she was so sick I wasn’t at all annoyed on that day). Anyway, my thought is that if I had continued to DO all the acts of service, they would have remained routine and wouldn’t have been filling her love tank, if that makes sense.
I finished the job, started the washing machine and set off for my own, unrelated Doctor’s appointment. While I was patiently waiting in the exam room and browsing through
magazines…who am I kidding, I was scrolling through social media…do people even read paper magazines anymore….
I got this text:
Wow! She filled my love tank with words of affirmation about me filling her love tank with acts of service!!!! Cue the happy music!!
Fast forward to the next weekend when I had accept her loving me her way…
It was Valentine’s weekend! Not only did I hand out chocolates to any friend I saw but I had attached words of affirmation to each one!
I also left all the hearts and fun crafty stuff out in the guest room where my kids have gone in years past to craft a card for us, their parents…but apparently I had always nudged this activity. This year, there was no nudging of my son because he is in college, although I sent him a Valentine care package, which was not intended as a nudge and obviously not taken as one. Come Valentine’s day I had beautiful flowers and card’s from my husband and my Mom but no sign of recognition from the kiddos. But guess what… I didn’t get teary or offended. I am confident in their love and I my tank was full from other authentic expressions I could clearly see. And here is the one that makes me laugh. My daughter and I were getting in the car to take a long (45 minutes each way is long to me) drive on the highway…with me in the passenger seat. And as we prepared, she told me with a smile that she made a special spotify playlist for the ride:
The title is hilarious, the thought is awesome! A perfect Act of Service that created a fun drive. With each new song that came on she was excited to see if I thought it was a good choice.
Those were my personal and current examples. Below are the highlights from the chapter and the bible verses I focused on this week using Jesus as my example of a servant. As I meditated on the verses and prayed them, another thought came to me as I was feeling the burden of some hard prayer requests for others….Prayer and bearing one another’s burdens is an act of service as well. Thank you Jesus for your example to us.
Jesus is our example
13 My brothers and sisters, you were chosen to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to live in sin. Instead, serve one another in love. 14 The whole law can be found in a single command. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” 36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The other things I learned from Chapter 6 in the book:
- Service is freely given (desire to give one’s energy to others)
- Manipulation is not love (by parents or teens)
- Reciprocal Love:
- Modeling and Guiding (through teaching and training)
- Helping your Teen’s sense of identity and independence (service in and out of the home)
- Reciprocal love requires both modeling and guiding. In what ways do you model reciprocal love for your teenager? In what ways do you guide your teen to reciprocate love to you and others outside the family? When you were a teen, what examples of reciprocal love from your parents made you want to reciprocate love?
- Performing acts of service for those outside the family helps develop a teen’s sense of self-identify and independence. Have you fostered your teen’s desire to do acts of service outside the family and suggested ways your teen can learn such skills independent of your involvement?
- What acts of service from your parents clearly showed their love for you? Have you offered your own acts of service to reciprocate theirs?
Prayer: (Fill in the blank with your teen’s name or your own)