Beside the Quiet Water

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I can only imagine what chaos life would be if I were being tossed around by the storms that surround me. Somehow I am able to lay beside the quiet water. It’s not like I’m in charge of any of the storms or have any control over them anyway. It’s still true that they are certainly out there, except they have no impact on me and I have no control over them.

I see myself laying on the edge of a large, mountain lake where I can feel the wind blow over me while the gentle ebb and flow the water splash against me where I lay. The sight is almost hypnotizing in its rhythm, back and forth across the pebbles. The wind through the pines are the perfect level of sound like the best background music I could have ever chosen. However, if I sit up a little and look out across the lake where it meets the horizon, I can see the water is rough out there. Little white caps from the waves kicking up and folding over themselves are a little disorienting because it is in contrast to the water here on the edge, where the water just trickles gently back and forth. The wind is doing more out there than making sweet music in the trees. If I strain, I can hear how it makes the water create it’s own noise in the splashing. The sky looks a little dark, too, as if it is a completely different sky from the one I’m laying under at the shoreline.

The thing is, I know that the storm is out there. It might be coming my direction or it might just blow on past. From where I lay beside the quiet water, that storm is out of my reach and beyond my control. So I lay back down and let that distant storm play itself out while I lay beside these quiet waters.

“The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.”

What’s your language?

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The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman has been one of the most helpful relationship books to me over the past 25 years or so. The basic premise is that we all have a “love tank” that needs filling and most of us fall into one or more of the 5 categories of how we feel loved and express love. 

Understanding yourself and how your love tanks is filled can sometimes feel a bit selfish. I think especially if you’re one whose love language is Receiving Gifts. For the sake of providing some background, these are the 5 Love Languages that Dr. Chapman proposes: 

  1. Acts of Service
  2. Receiving Gifts
  3. Quality Time
  4. Physical Touch
  5. Words of Affirmation

I don’t know the psychology of it all or why people feel loved in different ways, but I know my own Love Language(s).  Although experiencing them all would make me feel appreciated and seen, there are two specific areas, that when given or provided for me, truly make me feel loved. Or so I thought.

I never thought of myself as a Receiving Gifts type person. I mean I like getting gifts. Who doesn’t?! But recently I have unexpectedly received 3 gifts from 3 different people, and I have felt so filled with love by them! Maybe it was because they were given without a holiday or event attached, but simply because they thought of me. As I told the story to one of my daughters, she mentioned how thoughtful and intentional they were. Maybe that is why these gifts meant so much?  Although they were gifts, the motivation behind them really spoke more to my primary love language(s), Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service.

In receiving them, these gifts meant they thought of me and wanted to recognize me, and it was their way of telling me so (Words of Affirmation.) In the actual act of giving, I interpreted it as making a physical effort by using their time and talent to show their appreciation of me. (Acts of Service)

I strongly encourage you to order and read this book because I believe that it’s one of the best things you could do for yourself and the people you love. Just because we love someone, we can always do it better. To do it well would mean that they truly feel loved by you and the best way to make that happen is to know what fills their love tank. Here’s a hint – if you just can’t figure out someone’s love language, ask them. If they look at you with a blank stare, consider how they naturally express their love to others. It’s usually in the same way they want it returned to them. Then buy them the book! 

If I were to apply hashtags at this point, they would be: #knowyourlovelanguage #knowtheirlovelanguage 

Don’t Give Up

When people say “don’t give up,” they’re usually trying to encourage someone who is working toward a goal. Maybe they are trying to reach their best time running, or highest score in a sport, or reach a desired weight. There is usually an attainable goal in mind that can be accomplished with perseverance.

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves to not give up on those intangible, ongoing challenges that are day to day living. It’s a very broad stroke to just say “don’t give up” on life. The alternative is pretty drastic! Everyday life is a challenge all by itself as we navigate relationships, homes, family, money, feelings, thoughts, and quite frankly, all our personal baggage. And that’s without adding any specific, personal goals to the load.

Seriously, don’t give up. Just keep pressing on, plugging along, putting one step in front of the other, and before you know it one of those things you wanted to give up on has found its’ resolution. Then the load is a little lighter and now it’s a little easier to tackle the next challenge that life is throwing at you. As simplistic and naive as it sounds, it was an effective enough of a solution that God even tells us to Don’t Give Up.

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.