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Seeds to be sown

Smithsonian institute triceratopsMy children were fascinated by dinosaurs and we spent many hours reading about them, seeing them “without the skin on” at museums, and practicing those elaborate names.

Like many people, they wanted to know what happened to them? Why did God make dinosaurs if their only role was to die long before people could interact with them?

Over at Reasons to Believe, Astrophysicist/apologist Hugh Ross points out the death of all those dinosaurs oh so many millenium ago, is the reason we have oil on the planet today. If God had not created those dinosaurs to live and die when they did, we wouldn’t be driving petroleum-based engine cars nor have all those advantages of plastic.

God looked ahead to your needs and mine. Before men and women ever walked the earth, God prepared the planet for us.

I thought about God’s provision this week when seeds of a surprising conversation sown years ago came to fruition. I recognized a truth about my life I hadn’t seen before.

I’ve told the story before of the challenges I faced when my husband was the chief engineer of the oldest submarine in the Atlantic Ocean.  You can read about that angst here.

When my husband first attended submarine school we were warned, “the best way to prepare to be a good Navy wife is to learn how to become a widow.” The admiral advising us twenty-somethings had been the Casualty Assistance and Calls Officer (CACO) when the USS Thresher broke apart and the crew drowned. The horror of women unprepared to care for their families never left him.

That’s one of the reasons military wives tend to be independent women who can take care of themselves. We have to.

So, we balance the check books, mow the lawn, and fill the car with gas. I’m sure many of you do the same.

These tasks were easy for me because my “love language” (see Gary Chapman’s excellent The Five Love Languages) is acts of service. That’s how I show people I love them, by serving them and trying to meet their–even unexpressed–needs.

Shortly after my husband retired, however, I found myself in a Bible study with a group of lovely civilian women–none of whom ever filled their cars with gas.

A minor thing, but it astounded me. All those husbands who went to the gas station, “just because.”

Amazing.

My Navy wife friends howled when I told them of this element in “the real world.”

I didn’t think about it again until the other day when a newly-married friend marveled her groom voluntarily filled her car with gas. I laughed and told the story of those Bible study women long ago, but sudenly found myself weeping.

“Why, Lord?” I asked.

Immediately, a flash of Connecticut.

I saw, suddenly, what I had lacked all those years ago.

We often can discover our love language–the need we have to see love expressed to us–by how we express it to others.

Acts of service, for me.

All those years ago, no one was available to serve me–not in a monumental way, but in the small things: mowing the lawn, fixing broken appliances, filling the car with gas.

I did all that and more, but without any neighbors and with a husband gone 85% one year, only the little boys saw my life and they, well,  were little boys needing serving themselves.

By the time my life in Connecticut ended, my “love tank,” –my sense of being loved– was empty.

It had nothing to do with my husband’s love for me–that was never in question–but by the intangible way I felt loved (or not).

There was no one to serve me in the minor ways my soul craved.

When you determine your love language (acts of service, touch, gift giving, words of affirmation and quality time), ask if your “tank” is regularly being filled by the people in your life.

If not,  how are you behaving to get that need met?

If you’re alone, how can you interact with people to get some of those needs responsibly “tanked up?”

That’s part of the secret of a close group of military wives. Anne bailed me out of the hospital. I babysat so MaryLynn could coach a woman through childbirth. Jan brought me eggs during a snow storm. Countless people prayed for me. Recognize those acts of service?

I love those women and feel close to them even today.

Because of the seeds sown in that Bible study all those years ago, watered by a friend’s question about love languages last week, and the sharing of a charmed newlywed, I finally can understand the ache of those Connecticut years.

Just like God used dinosaurs to prepare a more comfortable life for us, he used sharing in a Bible study years ago to prepare my heart to understand a piece of my past.

I’m thankful.

What’s your love language? How is it best filled?

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4 Comments

  1. Michelle, I am glad you sent us over here to read this post. In our children’s Sunday School class this week we are studying about Jesus and one way he served others (by washing his disciples’ feet). So this was timely for me to read and think about the gift of service. One of our activities will be to do a service station relay. We are also making cards for veterans who so well served our country. Blessings, Janice

    Reply
    • Thanks, Janice. Acts of service are always useful, but if you’ve got some elderly veterans, you might consider the addition of touch. My own grandfather felt untouchable when he grew very old and he missed that.

      Blessings!

      Reply
  2. jan johnson

     /  October 25, 2012

    Beautifully written Michelle. I am going to share that with my dear co-worker and army wife (husband is going to be re-deployed to Afghanistan ). She will find comfort in this. Thanks for writing it!

    Reply
    • Be sure to discover her love language, Jan. As you well know, loneliness can muddy the waters and make it hard to see our needs.

      Blessings!

      Reply

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