When it’s hard to say “I Love You”

How many times a day do you say those 3 little words?  Do you hand them out generously or save them like fine china for special occasions?

I consider myself a loving person.  Over the past several years my understanding of what love is has grown infinitely broader and deeper since I’ve really come to understand how much God loves us.  So why then is it hard sometimes for me to tell people I love them?  That’s something I’ve been pondering lately.  Here’s why…

I hear myself telling my husband and my 2 “original” children that I love them all the time.  I say it at bedtime, before leaving the house, before hanging up the phone.  It occurred to me recently that I don’t say it to my step-kids.  Now occasionally the little one will tell me she loves me and I’ll say it back (and I do mean it), but for some reason it doesn’t naturally flow off the tongue.  Perhaps I’m nervous that they aren’t ready to hear it.  Or perhaps, especially with the teenagers, I’m afraid they don’t want to hear it.

Then I got to thinking about my job.  I work for a ministry so it’s very common for people at work to tell each other they love them as a form of appreciation.  For instance, when I gave the boss a birthday present she responded with, “Thanks, love you girl!”  Interestingly, hearing professions of love in the workplace warms my heart.  I understand that my boss doesn’t love me the same way she loves her family, but that she appreciates me and loves me as a sister in Christ.  This has gotten me practicing handing out the “Love You’s” a little more freely.  (must admit I’m better at this via text or Facebook than in person, but it’s progress)

The more I got to thinking about this “love” stuff, the more I noticed it’s absence in certain situations.  My mom and I rarely say “I love you”.  And yet I know that I love her and she loves me.  So why don’t we say it?

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Eh, better leave that one for counseling later in life.

What I’m happy to announce is that the other day I stepped out of my comfort zone and said “I love you” to my 18 year old step-son.  He was leaving for college, literally walking to the car, and I knew I couldn’t let him drive away without making sure he’d heard those words.  I suddenly didn’t care if he was ready or wanted to hear them.  I knew he needed to hear them.  And you know what he said?  “Love you too.”  Sweet, right?  But even if he hadn’t said it I know it was a huge step forward for us.  He knows that I didn’t email his teachers about grades and hound him about applying for scholarships and shop for his dorm room out of a sense of duty.  I did those things because I love him, and that won’t stop just because he’s not living in our home.  That’s forever.

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As every parent of more than one child knows, loving another child in no way reduces the amount of love you have for the first.  In fact, I believe that the more you love, the greater your capacity for love.

– Sidenote – I’m listening to music while I write this and the lyrics are “we live, we love, we forgive and never give up cause the days we are given are gifts from above and today we remember to live and to love.”  How perfect is that?!

Now my challenge to myself is to let go of any fear that hinders me from saying those 3 little words to everyone I love.  And my challenge to you is to find the love in your heart and release it into the world, into your family, into your words.   Go!

(archived from Aug. 24, 2013)

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