“Love languages” are a buzzed about topic in many Christian circles, and they’re a helpful tool for helping people identify the ways they both give and receive love from others. My top love language? Words of affirmation.
A compliment, a kind comment, an encouraging text, they all buoy my spirits and make my heart swell. I hold onto those words and I find so much joy in them. They often become words I use to shape my own identity, words I latch onto as defining attributes of who I am and where my worth lies.
Melissa Edgington’s recent post “Don’t Live for a Compliment from Your Husband” addresses a risky side of holding on tightly to words from others though, and it’s convicting.
She shares the story of her long distance relationship with her now-husband and how she fell in love with him through his words. “I could have lived on one sweet words from him for weeks,” she says.
“After two years of complete infatuation and a passionate cross-country romance, we were married,” Edgington shares. “Suddenly, we lived not only in the same state, but in the same city. In the same house, even. There wasn’t an abrupt end to the sweet words. But, something new had been introduced into our lovey-dovey existence: criticism.”
She had put so many of his words on a pedestal in her heart, clinging to them and letting them define her, and when they were replaced with more critical words, everything started to change and fall apart.
“I had gotten my God focus all out of whack, and I had allowed Chad’s thoughts, ideas, and opinions about me to take precedence over God’s. I had forgotten that my sense of worth should never, ever be dependent on another flawed human being, but on the God of the Universe, my Savior, my Creator. He tells me that I am loved, created for a purpose, intricately designed and deeply known. He tells me that He knows everything about me–even my thoughts that are too awful to utter aloud, and that He loves me anyway.”
It’s so easy for us to hear the words from the people closest to us and hold them in high regard (or let them hurt us), but the words that our Creator says about us should always be first and foremost in our hearts and minds.
While we can be encouraged, challenged, and uplifted by the words of our friends, families, mentors, and others, we ultimately are not defined by what they say about us or to us. In contrast, when we are criticized or called out, we can still stand confident knowing that our worth does not come from things in this world but from Christ alone.
What Jesus says about us, to us, and over us is truest and best.
Paul Tautges shares 42 truths on Crosswalk.com straight from the book of Ephesians that are powerful reminders of our identity in Christ we would do well to remember daily.
Here are a few of my favorites, with their references in Ephesians:
I am a child of God. God is my father (1:2)
I am a recipient of God’s kindness (1:5).
I am an object of God’s grace (1:6).
I am loved by God because of His great mercy (2:4).
I am alive in Christ, with Christ (2:5).
If you’ve found yourself (like I so often do) holding to the words of others over the words of the Father, I encourage you to read through this full list and dwell on the life-giving affirmations of Scripture.
In any and every relationship, there will be words that are good and sweet, and there will also be words that can be hard or hurtful in their honesty. Both can be spoken in love, and all can be better received if we first focus our heart’s attention on our Savior and His Word.
“When I have my spiritual priorities in order,” Edgington says, “then I can be a wife who is confident in her true value, not one desperately looking to her husband to make her feel worthy or loved.”
We, too, can find our truest value in the One who made us and be confident in what He says we are: beloved, alive, made new, saved, adopted into the family, and chosen by Him.
Those are words we can cling to!
Publication date: September 15, 2016
Rachel Dawson is the editor of BibleStudyTools.com