As I tuck my kids in bed, I leave them with a ‘goodnight’ and an ‘I love you’. Sometimes they say it back, depending on the child, and other times they do not. I could care less. I tell my husband I love him daily and he back to me. Sometimes he prompts it and says it first. Why do we say it anyway? Does it even matter? And why is it a big deal? I know it is for some people. I recently saw one of those posts about your relationship and it gave a list of questions for you to answer, one was -‘ Who said I love you first’ – I have absolutely no idea…now I know we’ve been together for 20 years, married for 18 but I really have no idea. Nor can I remember if it really mattered to me then? Was I waiting to see if he would say it? I don’t think so. A few weeks ago when I was talking to my husband on the phone and I said, ‘see you tonight, bye’ and as I was hanging up I heard him say, ‘love you’…oops, sorry, I have done that so many times to the poor guy!
Love wasn’t put in your heart to stay,
love isn’t love till you give it away.
I grew up with that saying hanging on the wall of our house. One of my mother’s best friend’s embroidered it for her. They were friends until she passed away in her 80’s. I used to ponder it…what does that mean? It’s not love till you give it away? ‘How do you give it away?’ I wondered. As I grew I started realizing what it meant. I started noticing what giving it away was. And that is how I want to be loved, not with an expression that everyone says to most people in their lives. It has kind of a generic sense of endearment to it, no? As an adult my parents rarely tell me they love me, and I am perfectly content with that, because I know they love me, because they show me. And for me that’s where it’s at. Show me the love! And I don’t mean you need to tackle me in a big hug either. If we refer to the famous book by Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages we can take a closer look. I haven’t read the entire book, so I won’t pretend that I have…I have however looked into these said love languages over the years and find them to be true. He lists them as, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Gifts and Quality Time.
In a discussion with a friend the other week, I told her my goal as a mom was to know how to love each of my kids based on their individual personalities and needs so that I can continue loving them well as adults. I do believe it is one of my more profound goals and it kind of surprised me when the words came spilling out of my mouth, I had never spoken them before. And while this sounds great, it is mighty difficult work. These four kids are all different. And sometimes I feel like they change from when I send them off in the morning until we meet up at the table in the evening. “So what does that look like” she asked. Yes, I have friends who ask hard questions, and that’s why they are my friends! To me it looks like this…knowing their inner most being so well that my words and actions speak to their soul and touch their hearts. So if I never say, ‘I love you’ again there is not one doubt that I loved them with my whole being. So tell me this…what if we not only set out to love our kids this way, but our entire family…and what if we took it just one more step and loved our friends this way? What would that look like, what would that do to our community and how would it effect the next generation?
I have one child out of four who seeks physical touch – one- and when he tries to hug his sister, her response is always, ‘stop touching me!’ Physical touch is NOT her love language. And while I think that all the love languages play a role in all relationships there is usually one you are more dominate in or one that speaks the most to you. I have a child who loves words of affirmation. Can’t get enough of them. So just an ‘I love you’ doesn’t really do it…but…….”When I see how well you did and how it made you feel, that made me so happy for you. You shine when you and it amazes me how God uses your gifts in that way.” I have another child who loves material gifts. And one who loves quality time, just wants to hang out with us, talk with us, be around us. I try to be intentional about what each of them are seeking, craving, needing.
So as for me, no you don’t have to tell me you love me, I’d actually rather you didn’t, I mean really I even hang up on my husband when he tells me. I’ve heard many an ‘I love you” muttered to me through the years, with no intentions on expanding from there…but now if you can show me, by being present, by reaching out, by seeking to know me and my true heart…that for me is loving well, like Jesus loves – he knows our inner most being – that is how I want to love and how I want to be loved…and that conquers the spoken sentiment for me every time.