What a better time to delve into the power of giving affection than the week entering Valentines Day, the day of love.
Think back to grade school where you might have exchanged those cute hot pink valentines cards that came ready with a heart shaped lollipop and a simple yet touching message. It might have said “Be mine” or “Will you be my valentine?”
Or maybe you remember the sweet hearts, those chalky pastel candies with promises of love and admiration inscribed on them. I know I would look through them and give them out to friends discriminately deciding which message fit which person best. I felt like a princess passing out white lilies to the suitors and civilians in my kingdom.
One for you, one for you, and one for you.
As soon as the teacher gave us all the queue to pass out our valentines, I would go one by one to each desk and with such excitement and grandeur dole out my individually wrapped goodies.
Usually I had spent the night before up with my mom baking boxed brownies until the house filled with the smell of fresh baked goods. Other years a mixed bag of candy had to suffice. But no matter how makeshift or homemade my valentines were I was always thrilled to pass them out.
I knew the excitement each person would have as they received the gift I (or perhaps more accurately my mother) had so thoughtfully made and/or purchased for them.
I wasn’t the only one ready to pass out my bag of individual valentines. By the time I had completed my voyage around home room emptying my cargo of miniature treats and cards I returned to my own desk to a welcoming homecoming of stack of cards and goodies all specifically for me! I beamed as I read each note, and heartily ate each cookie and chocolate feeling as sweet as the treats I bit into.
Why was this moment so special for me and so many of my other grade school peers?
As inconsequential as passing out colorful notes and sugary treats may have seemed, we were operating in something many of us fail to do as adults: we were meeting the relational need of affection.
With each hug, loving message, and thoughtful gift we were showing each other affection, a deep need we never grow out of.
Affection is “a tender attachment, fondness” and can be expressed by words of tenderness or appropriate, loving physical touch (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
Affection is a relational need, meaning that having it in our lives and relationships is just as vital to our health and well being as food or water.
Many times it’s easier to see our needs when we look at infants. After being around a baby for a little while it becomes clear babies do not only cry out when they need to be changed or are hungry, but often out of a basic need to be held. They need Affection.
Now scientists are discovering that children who lacked affection as a new borne are developing psychological deficiencies and “are at higher risk for behavioral, emotional, and social problems as they grow up” (“How Important is Physical Contact with your Children” Harmon).
It’s undeniable affection is essential to us and is needed in the midst of any healthy relationship, whether parent to child, friend to friend, sibling to sibling, spouse to spouse, etc.
Affection is so important because it communicates to the other person that you care about them. It expresses that you love them and there is a gentle, tender place for them in your heart.
Without the warmth of affection in a relationship the person will never be able to fully trust the relationship is a safe, welcoming place.
Affection helps bring love from head knowledge to the heart. When you begin giving affection to your loved ones you will see them begin to open up even more as your love for them begins to be a more felt truth than just a known one.
If you have never considered yourself an affectionate person don’t be discouraged. Love is something we all are perfected in and it’s okay to have an area of development. Below is a helpful list to begin practicing affection in our day to day relationships.
5 Practical ways to show affection are:
1. Using words of care such as “I love you”
2. Giving appropriate touch
(appropriate would be based on the mutual level of relationship and comfort of everyone involved) such as a hug, kiss, or holding hands
3. Telling someone “I care about you”
4. Gently rubbing a loved one on the back or arm
5. Giving a note that says how you feel about the person.
Ultimately the best way we can give is to first receive.
I encourage you to meditate on Jesus’ tender affections towards you this week. He calls you lovely, He says your voice is sweet to him, and He has as many good thoughts about you as grains of sand on the shore (Song of Solomon 2, Psalm 139).
As you receive your identity as the center of His affections, His beloved, you will find yourself giving affection to your loved ones who also need the warmth of your affection in their lives.
Feel free to share or comment if this article has changed your perspective towards the power of affection or helped you give it in a practical way. We love hearing from you!
Happy Valentines and God Bless!
“My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me” (Song of Solomon 2:10).