A while back my friend Erycka made a comment about “paper-thin ‘I love yous’” while working on a song (shameless plug, “Emotions” by Erycka). This is what our world currently spreads around and what we are teaching our children. The words are there but they are little more than air breathed out and then forgotten (honestly, do you know how many breaths you took today?). This is especially true within the church and its culture. We spread “I love you” around like it’s going to be lost if we don’t say it to each person we encounter. And as Christians, we are commanded to love one another (John 13:34). But do we really?
In 2019 (yes, I’m doing my yearly goal planning), I am going to be much more careful of how I throw these three words around because they are losing their strength.
~~~~Some thoughts based upon conversations and personal experience~~~~
“I love you” loses its strength when I can tell you nothing is wrong while tears stroll down my face and you smile back and say, “Okay” instead of reminding me that you’re there for me and it’s safe and okay to open up.
“I love you” loses its strength when it’s moving day and I am hauling things from house to house myself because no one was available.
“I love you” loses its strength when you’re hurting and I find out about it through FaceBook or another friend despite having just seen you smiling and laughing all afternoon, wearing your mask tightly so I couldn’t tell.
“I love you” loses its strength when I can come to church week after week hungry and tired and all I want is to hear Jesus speak to me through a song or message but instead I get called out of service because my kid is crying in the nursery and bothering the others.
“I love you” loses its strength when I send a message and it sits unread for weeks and I don’t complain because I know how busy you are but when I don’t email or text back right away I get a screenful about how I’m losing my ability to connect with people.
“I love you” loses its strength when I can go through a major life change and though you knew it was occurring, I never once heard from you.
“I love you” loses its strength when I hear it said to every other person and see it written on every post but then remember how you said you didn’t actually know or like someone you just said it to.
“I love you” gains strength when you stop by with a card and tell me you just wanted to check in because you haven’t seen me around.
“I love you” gains its strength when I am sick and you bring by chicken noodle soup without first posting about it on FaceBook.
“I love you” gains strength when you show up to my kids play from more than 2 hours away and with your tribe of kids just because you know it will mean the world to her.
“I love you” gains strength when you take time out of your day to text with me even though you’re at work and can’t talk on the phone because of the surroundings.
“I love you” gains strength when I can see that you mean it by looking at all the times you were patient with me, kind to me, supporting of me. The times when I got something really exciting and you didn’t respond from a place of “why not me?” but from true happiness for me. When you were willing to let your pride fall because it would mean the world for me to be able to shine for five minutes. Each time you honored me and helped me through a tough time, trusted me, hoped with me, and persevered with me. It gains strength when I realize you don’t keep tally of who is right and who is wrong but instead seek for us to both understand and grow.
Love is an action – a series of them – not words or feelings. Let’s start being more careful with how we throw these words around and ensure there is enough evidence to be convicted of loving someone before we say the words.