“The word ‘Love’, well it was once overused. Back in the 70’s the word was abused. But I refuse to let love be diluted. We can’t allow physical lust to intrude it. Or pollute it cause their ain’t no excuse for the greatest gift of all to be abused. So choose to lost the pride that may tug at you, don’t be afraid of the words ‘I love you’.”
– “Say the Words” by DC TALK
And so my teenage philosophy of being okay with the words “I love you” was formed. Unfortunately, as with many young boys, I found it particularly effective in getting the attention of the opposite gender. So many young people are afraid of “committing” to such a phrase, that for me to use it was effective in the few girls I was able to get the attention of growing up. Until I met a woman who finally began to not be content with my version of love, but to teach me more about it.
As my wife and I dated, we’d have those sappy moments that young couples have. We’d look deep into each others’ eyes over an well plated and overpriced en-tree (more realistically, over a plate of Strawberry Shortcake at Steak & Shake). Sometimes I wouldn’t know what to say that communicated my emotions well. So I’d often opt for the old reliable…”I love you.”
This worked like magic the first few times, sure. But then she did it. She thwarted my plan for lifelong relational bliss forever. She poked holes in my kite, and offered me a sailboat instead. She did it all with a simple one-word question:
She wasn’t asking a self-deprecating question about how I could possibly have feelings for her. She knew I loved her. She knew I cared for her. But she wanted our relationship to plunge beneath the surface of Hallmark cards and Disney movies. What was it about her that, in that moment particularly, compelled me to voice my emotions?
Fast forward 14 years, to me wanting to love and bless my children, and I’m so grateful for a wife who took the time and difficult conversations to teach me about love. To teach me how to be a better father. As I held my daughter this past Sunday afternoon, I began simply by hugging her close and saying, “I love you, Ruby.” But the question of “Why?” was still echoing through the halls of my heart. So I began a list… “I love when you hug me. I love when you share your smiles. I love when you pray for Phoebe. I love when you do silly dances. I love how big your heart is. I love when you do somersaults. I love to hear you make up songs……”
I wasn’t even done listing why I loved her, when my 4 year old began to snore on my chest. She was still lightly rubbing my face with her hand. I pulled the blanket over her shoulders, and took a deep satisfied breath. This parenting thing is pretty spectacular.
Maybe it’s your spouse. Maybe it’s your child. Whoever it might be, there’s a big chance that someone you love could realllllly use a reminder of “Why” you love them. Not because they question it, but because they long for a Love that dives deep into meaningful emotions in a world that confuses the definition of love on a regular basis. Who will you love today?