If you’ve heard of the five love languages, you know that among them are "gifts," "quality time," and "service." I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m a quality time person. I’m not a gifts person (it’s such a struggle to find just the right gift!), and service hasn’t come naturally to me, though I do enjoy being part of a group effort to make a difference.
Those love languages that I struggle with matter quite a bit to my family. As a wife and a mother, serving never ends. I’m up at all hours, soothing my children when sick or frightened. I’m constantly working to better love my husband in making a peaceful home and taking care of the things which matter to him. I know gifts are special to my children, to celebrate their birthdays and other momentous occasions. Loving my family motivates what I do, day in and day out.
Saint Paul reminds us that the command to love our neighbor sums up all the other commandments. Love is, in fact, the fulfillment of the law. (See Romans 13:10.)
So why is it hard to swallow Jesus’ words, that we must hate family and renounce possessions (see Luke 14:25-33) in order to follow Him? It feels disparate. Love your neighbor, but hate your family. I wrestle with this contradiction and the detachment required of me to follow Jesus while loving my family.
Jesus knows my struggle and calls me gently to meet Him as I take up my cross. It's there that I learn Who love is, and where He teaches me to meet the needs of my family.
Carrying my cross means that I’ve put Him first, necessarily putting my family second. With more of Jesus in my life, I love my family—those people I don’t and can’t ever hate—better.
Did you catch our BiS blog post on the five love languages?
Gina Fensterer finds daily life to be perfect for practicing virtue and sometimes blogs about raising up saints (she has six children). She loves the Jesus prayer, long runs, and coffee at any time of day. She is a contributing author to our children's devotional prayer book, Rise Up. You can find out more about her here.