I learned long ago to never let anyone leave the house without telling them I love them. Not to be maudlin, but there are no guarantees I’ll see them again. I don’t want my last words to someone to be expressions of anger, disappointment, or guilt.

I’m not great at it, and there are many times when I am calling that person as I drive away to apologize or say “I love you, you know that, right?” If I can remind someone of my heart and not my reactionary words, it may go a long way to restoring a relationship. Or reminding someone of how I truly feel.

Within our family, it has become a habit for people to yell as folks walk out the door, “Love you!’ or “Love you lots!” The “lots” was added by my daughters to show the superlative aspect of their emotion.

It works.

The grands have picked up on it–even the older ones who might have felt a little self-conscious about making such statements out loud. As each of them leaves, I yell out, “I love you!”

I always get an “I love you” back. Not because they feel forced to say it, but because being reminded that we are loved fills our hearts with warmth that can’t be bought, manufactured, or faked.

When my Dad was sick–he’d had a series of strokes–I was trying to get back to Chicago to visit him. The trip kept getting put off, which frustrated me, but I didn’t feel I could do anything about it.

That’s when I got the call from my sister telling me that Dad had died. I hadn’t had a final time to tell him I loved him, to smile into that beloved face, to hug him tightly and remind him how special he had always been to me.

I missed an opportunity. Regret is a heavy burden to bear.

Time and again I’ve walked away from someone and have later questioned how I could have ended that conversation better, how I could have said what I did in a kinder way.

Or maybe not said it at all.

We each need those special words of belonging, of knowing we are significant to someone. It reminds us that we matter, which does wonders for our self-esteem.

Relying on people to show us genuine love is tricky. We’re not consistent; we all have track records of disappointing others. Love is one of those things that’s hard to give if you don’t have any yourself.

But God.

He made us for love out of a heart of love. Offering what has been often refused.

The power of love is it goes where it’s not wanted but deeply needed. It’s not discouraged by rejection but suffers for the sake of the one loved.

God isn’t offended by our attitudes. He persists, loving us even as we don’t deserve it.

In that love is the kind of acceptance and forgiveness, warmth and hope that’s hard to dismiss.

It’s worth the conversation.

4 responses »

  1. Jonathan says:

    I always get this nagging feeling, when modelling any given behaviour – that I’m setting myself up to fail – because at some point we all forget to do whatever, regardless of how conscientious we are.

    I wonder what it says about others that we feel we have to display affection? It’s a bit of a psychological rabbit hole, isn’t it.

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    • daylerogers says:

      I honestly think it has a lot to do with culture. I grew up in a home where my mom was quite a narcissistic bully. Not condemning here–she really became kinder when she got old. But it was not an overly affectionate home, and I wanted that for my kids. And all the kids they bring around–still. So it works for us. Part of it too is that they know me well enough to know it isn’t just something said. You all are a lot more like the northeast part of our country–more reserved, less overt with affection. Cultural difference. And if a behavior is positive, isn’t modeling it a good thing?

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  2. terry morgan says:

    We didn’t hear “I love you” in my childhood home either. I wanted something different for our family, and we end many of our phone conversations and visits with “I love you.” I do think that especially when there is tension or conflict, the reminder of love and commitment – despite the conflict – is very valuable. I’d like to be more consistent still with those words. Not sure why we need them exactly, but it seems certain that we do.

    Like

  3. Signora Sheila says:

    We always do that too, Dayle. Hubby will sometimes even come back into the house if he forgot to kiss me and say I love you. Every exit and phone call in our family ends with that “I love you” shout and the return “I love you too!”

    As you may have read, my dad died recently, and while I didn’t get to be there or say goodbye, from our last talks, it seemed he knew his time was nearing. And I count it among my greatest blessings that I got to tell him what a good man and great dad he was, and how much I loved him. That has been so consoling to my heart, because I feel we got to do that last “I love you” shout, praise God!

    Like

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