I grew up in a home where neither of my parents said, “I love you.”  I believe they loved me, but they just didn’t say the words.

When I first married my husband, although I was crazy  in love with him, I didn’t know how to say the words, “I love you.” It’s a strange phenomenon.

Sometimes when you haven’t heard the words yourself, something about that makes it difficult to pass them along to someone else.  It makes you feel sort of vulnerable; it’s like  you might say the words and you worry they will be left hanging in the air and will not return back to you.  I imagine my mom and dad did not hear the words I love you very often in their lives.

In a short amount of time, after being married to my husband, I learned to say I love you easily and often.  He gave his love so freely and it was such an incredible gift to me that it made me want to return it and pass it around. One of the sweetest memories I have of him was from many years ago.  (I don’t even know that my kids know this story.)

Eric loves music and one day he came home and said, “Jack!  I just bought a new CD- there’s a song I want you to hear and it’s how I feel about you.” 

I eagerly jumped in the car to hear the words to the song.  He cranked up the volume and held my hand as we drove around the neighborhood and listened to the words together.

The song is written by Five for Fighting and you can listen here –  I Just Love You It just gets me as I listen to it again now.  The main part of the song is as follows –

”One evening on the road, a half a world away from home, I thought she was sleeping when a call came through.

I said darling, it’s late – is everything ok?  Silence took over the room til’ she said – 

I…I just love you. I don’t know why, I just do. When are you coming home, I’m coming home soon.  And I, I just love you too.

The song has a sort of despondent quality to it and  it makes me cry every time I listen to it.

It wasn’t until my 50’s that I decided to give the gift I had not been given to my parents. This will sound completely strange to those of you with a full love tank from your childhood – but I was scared to death at the awkwardness of telling my parents that I loved them.

When I said it to my dad…most of the time he never said anything back and it was awkward.  But sometimes…sometimes he gruffly said – love you. I don’t recall ever hearing my mom say the words, but she started to write  “I love you” at the end of of my birthday cards.

I learned that sometimes we have to give the gift first – in order to receive it back.  And by the time I was able to give them the gift – my tank was so full it no longer mattered if it came back to me or not.

My family and friends have filled my love tank to overflowing.  But I mean this from the bottom of my heart…when I finally comprehended HOW much God loves me it filled my tank in such a way that I was no longer “needy” of love. Trust me, I still need it…but I am no longer needy of it.

Over the years I often prayed the following scripture over the members of my family.  I knew that if they experienced the love that Jesus offers, they would never have the emptiness in their soul that I had experienced.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.  – Ephesians 3:16-18

For me, being loved is the gasoline that fuels my life.  Maybe for all of us…I don’t know.

A few days ago I went with my aunt to the memorial service I talked about in my previous blog – “A Bad Report”.  She didn’t know that I was feeling sad that day and she is the real reason that I am writing this blog.

At the end of the night I was extremely tired and I went to tell her goodbye. (Oh, it makes me cry right now) And on that day, when my tank was empty because I was so tired of cancer, that tiny little woman gently reached up and took my face in her hands and kissed me on my cheek and then she looked me right in the eyes and said to me –

”I love you, honey.  I just love you.”

How many times in life does someone hold your face so that you can’t look away,  to be sure you hear the words – I just love you.  She won’t know how much that meant to me until she reads my blog today. (I meant to email you, Auntie Pat, but since I didn’t get around to it – thank you.)

My family regularly says – love you!  I love you! – and it’s very good. But today it makes me want to take every single one of them and take hold of their faces that way and say – I just love you.  I really, really love you.

My oldest brother was really good at saying I love you.  His expressed love for me gave me a great deal of strength and courage throughout my life.

On Super Bowl Sunday, in February of 2016, my brother called just to talk before the game started. As we hung up the phone that day he said to me –

“I love you, Jack.”

A half hour after that phone call, my brother went on a run and died from heart complications.  He left me the most beautiful gift he could have ever given me.

I love you – those three words might be the most important words that someone could ever hear. 

”When I say I love you, I don’t say it out of habit or to make conversation.  I say it to remind you that you’re one of the best things that has ever happened to me.”

Until next time,