Love languages: Physical touchBottom Highlights, Latest Issue, Where's the Faith? Thursday, April 6th, 2017
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
As a progressive Christian, I believe there are many names for God and many ways to a loving God; this article reflects one of those ways. Take from here what works for you. Celebrate life with joy and peace!
Love is one of the most basic of human needs. We need it to survive. What a powerful motivator.
And we are all born with a need to love and be loved. We are happiest, most fulfilled, most productive and creative when our “love tank” is adequately filled. It’s when our “love tank” gets empty that we suffer the consequences in relationships and even our health.
In the book, The Five Love Languages , author Dr. Gary Chapman asserts we all have an emotional love language that is most meaningful to us. And in his research he’s broken them in to five categories or five languages:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
No one language is better than the other, there is no hierarchy, no correct order, it’s about what speaks to us on a deep emotional level. For stronger and lasting relationships, Dr. Chapman says, we must be willing to learn the primary love language of whoever we want to show love to if we are to be effective communicators of love.
Now, like any language, there are many different dialects. So it is with the languages of love, and the number of ways to express love within a love language is only limited by your imagination.
Words of Affirmation remind us that there is power in your words, and verbally affirming someone can be life-giving. And what we say, and how we say it are so important. And don’t forget, forgiveness is also an expression of love.
Quality Time means giving someone your undivided attention. Time is a precious commodity. When you give that special someone in your life even 20 minutes of your undivided attention, and s/he does the same for you, you are giving each other 20 minutes of life.
Receiving Gifts is about something you can hold in your hand and say, “Look, he was thinking of me,” or, “She remembered me.” The gift itself is a symbol of that thought. It doesn’t matter how much it costs, what’s important is that you thought of them.
Acts of Service are about doing something special that’s meaningful to the person you’re giving to.
And today we look at love language No. 5: Physical Touch.
Remember growing up in Elementary school afraid of getting cooties if you sat too close to someone? Eww, girl germs! Boy germs!
We laugh, and it’s good to have some humor because when we talk about physical touch, many people jump to the definition of physical touch as a sexual act or sexual pleasure. Now, sex and sexual touching is certainly part of this love language, but we have to remember that physical touch is an entire language and is much more than just sexual touch. Some of you will just have to trust me on that! Ha!
I also realize that some of you may have been harmed in the past or even right now by physical touch, and so talking like this can be uncomfortable. MCC is a safe place for you. It’s important to realize God created physical touch to be a loving way to communicate to another person. Physical touch is one way that people can give and receive and communicate love.
Babies who are held, stroked, and kissed develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact. Of the five senses, touching, unlike the other four, is not limited to one localized area of the body. Tiny tactile receptors are located all throughout the body. When those receptors are touched, nerves carry impulses to the brain. The brain interprets these impulses and we perceive that the thing that touched us is warm or cold, hard or soft. It causes pain of pleasure. We may also interpret it as loving or hostile. Dr. Chapman says that physical touch can make or break a relationship.
Physical touch includes: The loving power of a hug, a kiss, sex. The loving power of a handshake, a hand on a shoulder or back, a hand on a cheek.
Did you know that hugging is an amazing medicine? A good hug transfers energy, and gives the person hugged an emotional boost. Someone once said one needs four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance, and twelve for growth. Physical affection stimulates oxytocin, a hormone that makes us feel good. When oxytocin is flowing, stress is reduced, blood pressure goes down, mood improves and pain is more manageable.
Let’s look at Jesus’ life and how he used the language of physical touch; Jesus touched those he came in contact with. He showed compassion to those around him by physical touch. Our Scripture reading today talks about Jesus touching a man with leprosy. Now remember leprosy is a contagious skin disease. Those with leprosy were on the margins of social life in Jesus’ day. No one could touch them and they were marginalized and pushed out of normal life. When approached by someone not infected, the leper had to yell “unclean!” so that there would be no physical contact. Can you imagine the psychological damage this caused? Think of the AIDS fear in the past and still for some today.
Jesus didn’t have to touch him to heal him, but he did! We read, Jesus touched the man and he was healed. There was great power in that touch. There was great care in that touch. There was great love in that touch!
And then I can’t help but think of Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan. Helen Keller was deaf and blind and couldn’t communicate when Anne Sullivan met her in March 1887. Immediately she began to teach Helen to communicate by spelling words into her hand, beginning with d-o-l-l for the doll that she had brought little Helen as a present. Anne Sullivan taught Helen Keller to speak by touching the lips and throat of others as they speak, combined with finger-spelling letters on the palm of the child’s hand. Physical touch was essential for this miracle to take place!
And I love this beautiful story from Luke 15: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him … forgiveness was given and received by that physical touch and then the celebration began!”
Celebrate love in its many languages.
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