On Christmas eve two of my boys got into a fight, and as always, the elder son prevailed and the younger one came running to me as if he had been mortally wounded and had only minutes to live. Lately I’ve been telling them to “stand tall, be a man, don’t let them see you cry, etc”. But this time I felt the need to cradle my vanquished son and remind him that I loved him and that no one loved him more than me.
And once again my son “taught” me something: We need for both to remind those that we love and be reminded by those that love us, that each is loved very specially. My youngest son actually said to me that evening, “Please tell me that you love me every time I cry like you used to, and every time I cry and tell me that I you love me more than anyone else….. I was justifiably embarrassed for being told I did not affirm my love to him more often. What a lesson.
“I love you”. Such easy words to say and such a powerful blanket of comfort and security for a child. “No one loves you more than me”. Words that can drive away dread, fear, a sense of being “not very important” —-and a great sleep aid to a child that worries if anyone really cares about him. How many children go to bed every night not knowing that they matter to someone else? How many children grow into men and women having never known such love?
“Would you please tell me when I am crying that you love me more than anybody else….” The very words of Jesus Christ to the one who comes to Him seeking forgiveness, purpose and divine love! What caused me to seek Christ was a very real dread of eternal death and “getting what I deserved”! But what draws me close to Christ is the certainty that He loves me more than anyone else ever could even though He knows the most grotesque things about me.
But does that love from Him not also compel me to express and hold that same love for the others that He loves——i.e. my sons, neighbors, friends, associates, and so forth? How can I am experience the love of God and hate others? According to Saint John, it’s not possible to know of God’s love and hate another man.
I don’t say “it” enough. When I say it, I really do mean it, but something holds me back from saying it more. The last time I told my dad that I loved him was after all the other family members left his bedside and I held his hand for the last few minutes of his life—-“I love you”, I told him several times as his hand went from warm to cold. But he could not hear me by then. I should have said it more.
Perhaps some of us hold back on saying “I love you” because of the weight it should carry. I ought to mean something, and perhaps we recognizing our limitations to do what love requires if we were to spread that love to all the folks we know. Our emotions, time, energy and creative means of showing and expressing is limited——but only in proportion to how distant and disconnected we are from the ultimate, unfathomable, and inexhaustible love of the creator and originator of love.
If you’re a bible scholar you are aware the Jesus is never recorded as ever having said to anyone, “I love you”. No, He did not need to say those words because His life was the perfect epitome of love. But frankly I am not Jesus—-and neither are of of you reading this little devotion”. Until we’re in His Kingdom, quite literally, or until we are perfectly walking as He walked, we need to remind others, particularly our children and our parents, that we love them.