One of the lessons being given me by all and sundry as I start medical school is the language of love. Bed side protocol for us future physicians is increasingly becoming higher on the medical education priority list.
As someone with an avid interest in missionary medicine and having witnessed it first hand in short term mission travel, we in medical school could be taught a lesson or two. So as a young Christian what might be some of the biblical lessons associated with the language of love as an up and coming medico?
I like the 5 love languages developed by Dr. Gary Chapman, whose philosophy highlights 5 major ways that men and woman give and receive love – i.e. the language they use to communicate it. This might well parallel my situation.
Lately, I've been thinking about how these 5 love languages might factor into our relationship with Jesus. If we, as humans created in the image of God, use these 5 love languages to communicate our affection to one-another, how effective might they be in flourishing our relationship with God – the creator and true embodiment of love Himself.
As we rely on the love we receive from God to get us through our everyday, we must not forget that our primary commandment is to love God back (Deuteronomy chapter 6 verse 5). The 5 love languages give us a clue into some practical and effective ways we can fulfill this command. Many of these things we already do as natural activities in our Christian lives. Others may require a bit more intentionality to find their place.
But just as we can learn to speak love languages non-native to us to better love our family and friends, we can do the same to actively love our God.
Words of Affirmation
- Using words to affirm someone
This one is simple: praise and thanksgiving. Pray it, speak it out, tell others around you about the goodness and wonder of your Father in Heaven. An important sidenote about praise: praise is not something you do with your mind, it is something you do with your mouth. You cannot think praise, you must speak it (Hebrews chapter 13 verse 15).
– Giving of your undivided attention
The good, old- fashioned quiet time. The moments we spend with God, one-on-one. They are vital to our everyday, but also bless the Lord's heart by our spending quality time with him and giving him our undivided attention.
– Giving and receiving of gifts
This one is varied. We can give God the gift of our sacrifice when we fast, the gift of our finance when we tithe, or the gift of our thoughts when we dote upon Him. As with all gifts- giving, however, it is the heart behind the gift that matters most.
Acts of Service
– Showing love through actions, rather than words
I take this one as simply being the hands and feet of Jesus. By loving His children, we love Him (Matthew 25 verses 35-40). This can take form in multiple ways: serving in church, baking muffins for neighbours, or running a small group. The opportunities to love by serving are endless.
– Situationally- appropriate touch
Though we cannot touch Jesus in the flesh, we can use physical touch as an extension of our acts of service – by reaching out to the unlovable. Physical touch lends a sense of humanity and understanding that few other things can, and by extending ourselves for that hug or high-five to the one that is less fortunate, we are often showing a level of acceptance and love deeper than any other.
The lesson for me as a medical student is that when I'm having difficulty communicating with those in my orbit (medical school, home, church, play), I'll try using another language.
Tina Hakimi is an Arizona-raised, Sydney-based writer pursuing her doctorate at UNSW and now back home in medical school.
Tina Hakimi's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/tina-hakimi.html