The Language of Gratitude

Aaron and I recently decided to get a gym membership, which should be interesting, because the last work out I completed was carrying my baby to the couch to nurse so I could watch Downton Abbey.

That being said, in order to start this new fitness venture, we must acquire the proper clothing.

We decided to go shopping for gym shoes a couple weeks ago. Aaron happily purchased one of the first three pairs he tried on. I, on the other hand, decided it was necessary to try on every pair of shoes within my budget. This, as you can imagine, took some time. The store closed, and I was still there trying to decide which shoes to buy. Eventually, I purchased a pair of shoes that I wasn’t completely happy with because I felt pressured to reward the sales clerk that had been waiting on me. (Plus, the very large and intimidating manger was standing by the exit waiting for us to leave, and I’m pretty sure that if I left the store without purchasing shoes, he would have spit in my hair.) We left, the store closed, and I immediately felt buyer’s remorse. Aaron didn’t understand why in the world I wasn’t happy with the hundredth pair of shoes I had tried on. I looked him in the eyes and said confidently, “They don’t make me feel very fast.” He laughed at me, and I’m not sure why, because I think my logic was pretty sound. So I proceeded to explain to him how my last pair of shoes made me feel fast, and that this is an important component of gym shoes because the first step to being awesome in the gym is feeling awesome when you get there. (This shoe story probably isn’t necessary for this post, but I just really wanted to tell you about my new shoes, which I decided to keep by the way. They make me feel pretty fast.)

A week later, I was at the store and decided to purchase some new athletic clothes for Aaron. I thought, since he settled on his shoes, I would make sure to buy him gym clothes that would boost his self-esteem. I purchased a new outfit (that looks pretty cool if I do say so myself), and waited to show it to Aaron. Once he came home from work, I proudly presented him with his new clothes. He glanced at what was in my hands, said “thanks,” and quickly moved on to rummaging for a sweatshirt in the closet.

Seriously? That’s it?

“Babe,” I asked, astonished by his disinterest, “don’t you think these are cool?” (You know, I don’t know if people still refer to things as “cool,” but I’m a 90’s kid, so I’m sticking with it.)

“Sure,” he replied, “but I already have gym clothes. I don’t really need any.”

I fervently began explaining that the condition and age of his clothes hardly qualifies them as “athletic.” Plus, they definitely won’t make him feel very cool. I reminded him of the shoe incident and the importance of having shoes that make you feel fast. With lots of hand gestures, I exuberantly informed him of the capability of these new clothes to make him feel confident and give him the self-esteem boost he needs to add a couple extra pounds to his weight lifting routine. (I have been known to make some pretty extreme statements in my lifetime.) All the while, I’m wondering why in the world I found myself having to justify this awesome purchase?

Suddenly, in the middle of my weight-lifting mime (to say I was exuberantly explaining my logic is probably a gross understatement), Aaron started laughing at me! Here I am telling him how his new clothes are going to totally change his life, and he is standing in his closet laughing at me?

He said, “Heather? Remember that blog post you wrote about acts of service? And how you’re learning to appreciate my service to you?” I was totally confounded at this point, because I had no idea what my blog post had to do with the gift I bought him. “Well,” he said, “you are a gifts person. I’m going to accept and appreciate your gift.” Then he walked over to me, hugged me, looked me in the eyes, and said a sincere “thank you.”

Until that moment, I hadn’t even thought about how important it was to me that Aaron accept and appreciate what I’d bought him. Aaron is definitely NOT a gifts person, so if I buy him something, I always try to make sure it’s practical. I was sure these new clothes were going to be a slam dunk, so I was surprised by his disinterest, and that disinterest, felt a little like rejection. When he came over to me and showed genuine acceptance and gratitude, I finally felt my love had been welcomed.

I had to ask myself, how many times has Aaron served me in some way or said something sweet to me, and I just brushed it off? How many times have I never shown gratitude for the love he so selflessly offers? I may silently appreciate Aaron’s acts of service, but he won’t know his love has been acknowledged if I never say a sincere “thank you.” When Aaron took a few seconds to genuinely recognize and thank me for his gift, I, in return, felt loved. Life is full and the days are busy, especially with a baby around the house. If I can pause for a few moments to show gratitude to Aaron for all his small acts of love, I would have the honor of continually affirming his love for me and my love for him. Love languages are helpful and offer insight into yourself and others. But probably the greatest “love language” of all is gratitude. It is with gratitude that we are able to accept all forms of love we are given, and it is with gratitude that we assure others their love has been welcomed and their hearts are well cared for.


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