Today, we've got Ylvis and this song is all about a "puppy love affair", where a man and a seal fall in love and sing to each other. Ridiculous? Yes! But my kids have a blast, laughing and singing all in good fun, especially when someone decides to imitate the seal as she sings her love back to the man.
On a cold, snowy, blowy, white-outy wintry morning when all has been canceled and all have been advised to hunker down and shelter in place, I've heard the song a few times. Funny thing? The title lines right up with reflections I've had this past week, returning to school... and ministry... after the Christmas holiday.
Many are familiar with Gary Chapman and the five "love languages:
- words of affirmation,
- physical touch,
- acts of service,
- gifts and
- quality time.
At least until the last couple of years. Doing life and ministry in French makes communicating and using words well more challenging, complicated and definitely more exhausting.
There's no doubt about it. I just can't use words nearly so easily or as well. In fact, I am pretty sure I often sound like the "seal singing" part of the above mentioned song. Therefore, since moving to Quebec I've been pushed - more than ever before - to learn new ways to communicate God's love, ones that aren't so "word-heavy," ones such as acts of service, and quality time.
Unsurprisingly (even though head-in-the-sand-me managed to be surprised) communicating love via those secondary and tertiary for me languages demands an investment, a significant one, of additional effort and time. Words are easy and natural, at least for this introvert. Those other love languages require that I do what comes much less naturally. Even when I do try to fall back on words, my first instinct and characteristic choice, additional time and effort is required.
And while I can't quantify this type of daily life effort in the same way I can calculate effort using a physics equation, I have ascertained the following:
- Compared to what I experienced while living in the developing world (i.e. my daily life in Niger), much less physical effort is required to "do life" in Quebec... and that's taking into account all the inconveniences that are a part of dealing with lots of cold and snow.
- On the other hand, even though the French language has been an important aspect of of life and ministry in both places, in Quebec, it encompasses the majority of all I do. Most days, I communicate more in French than in English. I can do it, but the mental effort is significant.
- When we first started this adventure 20+ years ago, I had no clue what choosing to live life in a language other than your maternal tongue demands. Today, I have enormous respect those who, whether by choice or necessity, do so.
- My appreciation of those who regularly demonstrate love using one of the other "love languages" is increasing exponentially.
- I'm learning to better recognize and appreciate those gifts of love when they are shared with me.
- I'm thankful that using my less "natural" love languages is deepening my daily dependence on God, because I feel unable, tired and out of my league.
- I'm learning to turn first to God's Word to help me communicate love when I want to use words, as well as to recognize when words just might not be the most effective tool.