How-To for Loving God
BOOK PICK: Eight Ways of Loving God Revealed by Love Himself
Eight Ways of Loving God
Revealed by Love Himself
By Jeanette Flood
Ignatius Press, 2019
375 pages, $18.95
To order: ignatius.com or (800) 651-1531
In 1992, Christian author Gary Chapman introduced the ground-breaking concept of “love languages,” which posits that individual people vary in how they give and receive love and affection. Knowing your own love language and “speaking” to others in their primary love language is one of the keys to harmonious interpersonal relationships. For example, some people respond warmly to hugs and pats on the back, while others prefer spending quality time together. Gifts and kind deeds are the way to win over some people, while others like nothing better than to hear words of praise and encouragement from the people they love. Chapman’s book and its various spin-offs have helped countless readers improve their relationships with the people in their lives.
Can this idea apply to our relationship with God? That is, does God have a preferred “love language?”
With charm and practical insight, Catholic author and mother of six Jeanette Flood answers with a resounding “Yes.”
I won’t give away the entire list, but it includes trust, obedience, repentance, sacrifice and prayer. These are analogous to the things we do naturally with the human beings we love: We trust them, we obey them if they are in authority over us, or, in the case of equals, we strive to be mutually accommodating and respectful. We apologize and try to make up for it when we offend those we love, and we are willing to inconvenience ourselves in order to do what is right and good for them. And we set aside time to just be with them, whether in conversation, activity or just “hanging out.”
It’s the same with God. If we love him, we will trust and obey him. We will sincerely repent when we sin. We will make sacrifices for him. And we will also remember that what God wants, more than anything else, is to just be with us. “Prayer,” writes Flood, “is the primary way to love God.” Indeed, it’s his No. 1 “love language.”
My favorite things about this book are Flood’s easy, warm, humorous style and her actionable advice. For example, she refers to meditative prayer as “the divine mind-meld,” tells a funny story of what it took for her to finally realize the value of obeying the speed limit, and in a section entitled, “Knights of the Dinner Table,” she describes how discipline regarding food and drink trains us for practicing virtue and self-control in other areas of our lives. This applies not just to fasting but also to Our Lord’s admonition to “eat what is set before you”:
“Culinary courage is more than a healthy habit. … It’s also a will-builder. I tell my kids to eat their vegetables not only for the sake of their health, but also in order to learn to make themselves do the good they find unpalatable. We need that kind of daily discipline or our wills become flabby and weak. At mealtimes, we can start training ourselves and gain the strength to do noble things and conquer greater challenges.”
Loving God in tangible, concrete ways is the key to a rewarding and fruitful Christian life. Eight Ways of Loving God is a comprehensive omnibus for accomplishing this. It could have been subtitled “Eight Habits of Highly Effective Catholics.” Flood covers a vast range of topics — natural law, forming the conscience, works of mercy, the Last Things, the sacraments, media and the internet and the saints — all brought delightfully up-to-date for contemporary Catholics and peppered with illuminating analogies and helpful examples.
Clare Walker writes from Westmont, Illinois.