Convictions & Comforts · Reviews

Three Books and How I Liked Them

I’m a planner. If I intend on travelling, switching multivitamins, or writing a new story, I research the heck out of it before I make the change. Sometimes I research so much that I never end up doing what I intended on the research being necessary for in the first place, but I digress.

I am not a military wife. I am not even a military fiancee. (Yet.) However, I intend on being one in the future, so research starts now! Well, it started as soon as a certain someone was on my radar, but again, I digress.

With my first paycheck from being back at Panera, I bought books on the topic! And I’m here to review them! You may cheer. I’m okay with that.

Three Books I Liked

The Five Love Languages: Military Edition: The Secret to Love That Lasts
by Gary D Chapman, Jocelyn Green

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the love language concept, the theory is that we all show and need love in five different areas:

Acts of Service
Words of Affirmation
Gifts
Quality Time
Physical Touch

The idea is that you determine which of these your spouse, children, friends, etc, most crave in order to feel loved, and you improve (or repair) your relationship with them through learning to speak their primary and sometimes secondary love language(s).

What I Didn’t Like About the Book:

I heard the author was a big hit with Focus on the Family, and therefore assumed he was a Christian. Which, he is. But I really didn’t like the entire introduction which was totally stripped of Christian context and seemed like a lot of self-promotion on his theories and how he saved so many marriages through it. I understand he’s trying to cater to all relationships, even those that aren’t faith-based, but when a Christian is trying to give relationship advice and he fails to mention Christ as the perfect model of true and lasting love, I get irritated. He also failed to mention the striking contrast between couples that prayed together, and those who didn’t. (Guess which ones stayed together?)

I was also greatly disturbed by the constant (and unquestioned) use of the term, “fallen out of love.” He did use the phrase “emotional excuse” to describe those who left their spouses and/or cheated on them, but I would have used harsher terms. How about, “oath breakers” or “disobedient to the commandment to love?” Because yes, Biblically, love is a commandment. God’s Word tells us to love one another; it’s not a suggestion. (John 15:12; Matthew 5:43-48; Ephesians 5:25) It’s not a temporary emotion you fall in and out of depending on your level of emotional happiness and warm-fuzziness, but it’s a verb. It’s a daily growing, affirming action that if you married, you promised to do until death do you part. I’m really disappointed that he didn’t address that at all. Not even in a separate section for believers. It was all lumped in with lingo such as, “love is a choice” and “that first-time falling in love feeling is just an obsession.” I don’t believe in redefining love. The Bible says what love is and then tells you in no uncertain terms to do it! I’m just reading other books to better learn how during unique situations, such as deployments.

But just because the author failed to include a section like this, doesn’t mean I can’t write one up here. So these are my thoughts on the five love languages from a biblical perspective.

I already gave references to love being a commandment. We’re told to love one another, love our enemies, and most importantly, love God. We show our love for God when we learn to love each other as He commands. Not through selfish motives because we expect to get something in return, but as Jesus loved and still loves us. Here are some examples of how Christ exhibited a perfect life of love through each of these methods during His earthly ministry:

Acts of Service:
It’s not difficult to see how Jesus displayed His love through acts of service. His entire time on earth was spent in doing things for others, whether it was the simple yet profound act of washing His disciple’s feet, (John 13:1-5) or the miraculous feeding of thousands, or the numerous sinners He healed and forgave. His death on the cross was the ultimate act of service in purchasing our salvation when it was impossible for us to do for ourselves. (Mark 10:44-45)

Words of Affirmation
Scripture is full of encouraging Words from our Lord. When he preached and taught, it was to bring the lost to salvation. When he spoke to His disciples, it was with words spoken in truth, out of His great love for them. Even in His harshest rebukes He showed that He loved them enough to point out their sins in order that they might return to Him. How many passages include the words, “Do not be afraid… I am with you?” Jesus knew exactly how to give words of encouragement to bless His loved ones. And He’s left us His Word in the form of the Bible in order that we might draw nearer and dearer to Him through its pages of loving affirmation.

Gifts
When He ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men. (Ephesians 4:8) Think of all the ways Jesus’ disciples were blessed by His giving. They found the tax money in the mouth of a fish. He gave health and life to those who were destitute or dying. He blesses us today with more provisions and comforts than anyone in the ancient world could even imagine. More than even physical blessings, He’s gifted us with spiritual blessings. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights. (James 1:17) God gave us His only Son, Jesus Christ who offered His life freely as a price for our salvation. Freely you have received. Freely give. (Matthew 10:8)

Quality Time
When the Gospels say that Jesus got into a boat with his disciples, or went into a private house to get away from the multitude, he was showing His great love by securing time specifically devoted to His disciples. As great as His mission was to witness, and preach, and heal, and serve, He did not fail to spend quality time with those dearest to Him. He did not send anyone away who sought to learn from Him, but gave of Himself whenever there was need. He also showed His perfect love to the Father in making sure He found moments of solitude to meditate and pray, like in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Mark 14:32)

Physical Touch
This is what truly made me weepy. Since physical touch is my primary love language, dwelling on these really got me. Think of all the miracles that Jesus performed. In how many of those acts of loving service, did He simply wave his hand to the blind, the lame, the dying, and say, “Go forth, you are healed?” All the accounts I recall included His physical touch. Imagine. The Almighty Son of God, the King of all Creation, Master of all Providence, stooped to create a clay of spit with which to heal the blind man. He knelt to place His hands on the broken and lost. He drew His beloved disciples to His bosom, gathered the little children on His knee, and pulled Peter out of the roaring sea with a strong hand. He was a physical presence for those who sought Him, never denying them His touch. He easily could have pointed a finger to heal, or sent a strong wind to carry Peter to safety, or performed all His miracles without so much as a gesture. Yet He chose to touch. So that’s why I cried today.

All these to show that Jesus was, and is the perfect example of how to show love to one another in every way.

What I Liked About the Book:

This was totally eye-opening; not just in terms of looking to the future and how to be a loving wife, but in my current state of relationships with those I love best in my role as a sister, daughter, friend, and so on. It’s so obvious to me what certain family members would have as their primary love language, and trying to fulfill their needs for that love is a challenge I’m going to enjoy. (I hope. Or I could find it utterly exhausting and get a kitten, instead. Kittens like physical touch, right? ^.^)

I also really liked the extra sections for how to meet these needs for spouses during deployments. The fact that my David and I are already doing everything that’s advised for those spending time apart is pretty nice, too. :)

Recommendation: Yes–with a grain of salt for added Christian flavour.

11 Mistakes Couples Make During Deployments
by Bianca Clovis

What I Didn’t Like About the Book:

It was badly edited and there were blatant typos that were sometimes distracting. I didn’t like that she said not to get a pet before a deployment. But I think she meant puppies. You don’t want to deal with training a puppy when your man is off in the wild blue. But I’m sure a kitten or two is perfectly acceptable. :)

What I Liked About the Book:

Though David and I are already going through deployments while being “together” (it’ll be a whole ‘nother matter when marriage is in the mix) we’ve so far avoided all the important things this book warned against. It does give me much needed confirmation that we’re doing things right. Open communication, honesty, refraining from stressing about little things, maintaining realistic expectations, etc. I’m going to keep this book handy and refer to it often, I’m sure.

Recommendation: Yes–with an additional grain of salt, remembering things are inevitably different for Christian couples, and there are going to be exceptions to the world’s standards for what qualifies as a “mistake.”

The (Tough Love) Military Wife Survival Guide
by S.M Westerlie

What I Didn’t Like About the Book:

Of all the books, this was the most scary. With the previous two I nodded a lot, frequently stated, “Well, of course!” or made some snarky comment about that already being obvious if you read the Bible or have a modicum of common sense based on solid principles. However, this book really made me pause and for a brief moment freak out that some aspects of military life could be too much.

What I Liked About the Book:

It was real. It was honest. She didn’t walk on eggshells to paint a fantasy world of fluff and stuff. And it was full of helpful information I’ve wondered about, and some I never even considered. I love the acronym guide at the beginning, and the slang reference. I also kind of love that reading this did scare me a little. Not at all in a “Whoa, I did not sign up for that! Count me out!” kind of way, but with the other books, parts of it were beginning to sound a little too easy. I like that this book takes those fearful questions head-on, and the author uses them as a way to educate rather than scare tactics or warnings meant to discourage. The bit about the sorts of people you’re likely to encounter as a military spouse (and which sorts to avoid) was also really helpful. I like the reminder to stay confident about your own decisions as a couple, and not let others get you down because of a different method or mindset.

Recommendation: Yes–But again, the staunch Christian in me longs for a God-centred book with more biblical references, and spiritual guidance.

I bought three more books that look promising in that area! :) I’ll review as I finish those, as well.

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