Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"I Love You"

Anxious, I hustle and bustle my way down the morning-lit Autumn avenue. Fall is in the air. The tinged-gold leaves highlight the changing season, as the not-yet-chilly breeze whisks by. Flustered, the wind strokes my hair and I am lost in a thousand inward thoughts. The to-do list ticks away in my mind and I anticipate the funny moments of the day (my eye is trained to spot them now). My thoughts turn to someone I love. I can't hold back my smile.  My thousand thoughts turn into one. All else goes out of my mind. Then, I stop.

 "God...I love you," I say.

The words linger in my thoughts. All is silent. I think to myself, "I can't remember the last time I told Him that!" My heart breaks at the thought I hadn't told Him 'I love you' sooner, for so long. "I love you." I ponder those words. If I said them for all eternity, I could never say them enough. I wonder if He longs for me as I long for the one I love... A soft response reassures me, "All the time."

It's not enough to tell someone "I love you." Do love them. Show them you do. Cherish them. Remember them. Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). What is the ultimate commandment? Love.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10:27). It all comes down to love.

So why are we so uncomfortable with this concept of Love in our society today? Perhaps because we've traded the word "Love" for tit-for-tat, quid pro quo, you scratch my back....well, you get the picture. The word "love" in our vernacular has been diluted to mean "I want something from you." This is a concept that I refer to as the....

"I Love You" Wars 

Yep. We've all been there. Or at least I have. More than once. You're coming to the end of a conversation and then suddenly the tension builds. "Uh oh," you think. "It's coming..."

And then, inevitably, it happens.

From the other side of the telephone line or, more dangerously, from the someone standing right in front of you, out spring the words: "I love you." Gulp. "What do I do now?" you think.  In a nano second a thousand thoughts blur your mind, such as:

 • "If I say I love you, they might think I do. I don't want to give them the wrong impression."
• "I don't know how I feel!"
• "Gosh, I really don't love them like that."
• "Well, they say 'I love you' to everyone, so it really doesn't mean anything." Or maybe...
• "Wow. I really do love them, too."

Well, if you're like me, many times I've simply just said, "Thank you."

Yes, "thank you." It's not quite rude, but it's decidedly not reciprocal. But I really didn't mean "thank you." I meant "back off." The words "I love you" became a trigger for me to batten down the hatches and put my walls up. The phrase was like a curse word in my ears.


In times past those words have been used as a tool of manipulation against me by people who have not had my best in mind.

In fact, my dear friend and former roommate (who lovingly says I drove her into counseling ~ she's a successful and brilliant counselor now), can testify to the fact that more than once I chucked my phone at the wall from across the room after a series of conversations with a certain someone ended in "I love you," on his end and "thank you" on mine. I didn't know how to deal with it! So I thought taking my anger out on my phone would do the trick. (Lo, and behold, it did not.)

So often "love" in our society has been misconstrued as disingenuous.  So often the phrase "I love you" could be translated into "I want to be affirmed by you."

Sometimes it becomes a contest to see if someone will say, "I love you" back. Like a "Gotcha!" game. And what's more romantic than being forced to say something you don't want to say to someone to whom you don't want to say it? For those of you old enough to remember the 90s hit sitcom, Family Matters, Steve Urkel's infamous catchphrase comes to mind: "I'm wearing you down, baby...I'm wearing you down!"


Ha, no, you're not!

Now I'm not knocking telling others you love them, if you really do. I'm just acknowledging the fact that sometimes those words can trigger memories of past hurt, if not used wisely and timed rightly. 

But What if You Really Do Love Someone? 

Nike it. Just do it! Let your love be more than mere words.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for his friends ~John 15:13.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. ~ James 1:22-25.

The greatest way to walk in love toward someone is to ask God how to bless them. Pray about it. Do what comes to mind.

And.... Let love be without hypocrisy. ~Romans 12:9.

Don't be the Judas who hugs your brother, says "I love you," and stabs him in the back as soon as he turns around. It's not enough to say "I love you." Do. Show them you really do love them. After all, God is our example, and this is what He did:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. ~John 3:16. If you really love someone, start imitating self-sacrificing Love Himself and watch what happens.

Therefore be imitators of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. ~Ephesians 5:1-2.

Watch the power of Love change a life today: watch it change yours.

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