Bestselling author and counselor Gary Chapman has literally taught millions of people how to effectively love those in their lives according to the Five Love Languages. Today, Chapman has extended that study by focusing on making Love as a Way of Life. Chapman uses personal life stories, case studies and general observations on relationships between the sexes, parents/children, neighbors, co-workers and more to underscore how timeless God's plan is for individuals to thrive relationally as they seek to love authentically.
No matter what relational constraints a person falls under, and no matter how difficult the personal circumstances, Chapman exhorts Christians to carefully study Mark 12:30-31 where Jesus is asked to name the most important commandment. Jesus told his listeners to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. Next, He tells them to go love their neighbors as themselves. It is under this premise and strong biblical directive that Chapman bases his "seven keys" for living a transformed life of love.
Chapman has drawn upon his 35 years as a marriage and family counselor, and cites the seven characteristics of a loving person: kindness, patience, forgiveness, courtesy, humility, generosity and honesty. He notes that these character traits are not "vague feelings or good intentions." Rather, each one is a habit that is intentionally practiced and lived out in day-to-day interactions and that result in enhanced satisfaction in relationships.
Chapman also believes that all seven are essential to an individual's ability to love fully and with deep authenticity. None of these traits can be ignored without sacrificing something significant within a person's relationships. As a counselor, Chapman understands that men and women need more than inspirational talk to get them started on the right path to repairing, reconciling and reigniting wounded relationships. So he offers readers chapter-by-chapter questionnaires for valuable self-checks.
He also provides other helpful tools for acquiring each trait to its fullest expression by "showing not telling" what each characteristic looks like in real-life situations; how to make changes happen through small yet significant daily choices; warning readers of each trait's competitors (internal and external) to better equip them for overcoming these subtle yet deadly obstacles; a very helpful "what would your relationship be like if..." section that sparks an individual's ability to dream about the possibilities of healthier relationships as he or she makes purposeful choices to grow; and personal change questions for discussion and options for application.
Chapman is an expert at engaging readers in his characteristically thoughtful, non-threatening manner, and this text is no different. Readers will get excited about the possibilities of forging new relational territory according to his biblically-based recommendations. Similarly, Christians will discover that it is never too late to start over, and Chapman's work will show them how to do it.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on July 15, 2008