Years ago, I asked my grandma why she always said “I love you” to my grandpa whenever she left him. She explained to me that when my grandpa was diagnosed with heart disease they couldn’t do heart surgery. They didn’t think that he would live very much longer. So, my grandma didn’t know when she left him if that would be the last time she would see grandpa alive. So every time they parted, they said “I love you” to the other.
In my own marriage and family life, we have tried to put that into practice. Whenever we part, my husband or my kids, we say, “I love you”. It is what we do on the phone, walking out the door in the morning, going to bed at night or leaving for trips. It has become such second nature to us; I’m hoping we don’t take it for granted.
Recently during a discussion with my husband, we mentioned affirmations. I wondered if in saying “I love you” to my children, they might not know what I love about them. I may not tell them what I appreciate about them, or tell them thank you, or tell them how special they are to me. And how are they to know unless I tell them? Why should there be unspoken words between us? What about “I’m proud of you”, “I respect you”, “I care about you”, “Thank you”, “I appreciate you”, “You did good”, or “I’m glad I know you”?
My daughter once participated in the every 15 minutes program at her high school. The purpose of the program is to bring awareness of how quickly life can end when high school kids drink or do drugs and drive. She volunteered to be one of the kids who “died”. She and I both wrote a letter to each other of what we wished that we could have said to each other. We read them aloud to each other at an assembly at the high school. That was a very emotional two days.
We both said words to each other and family members that were previously unspoken. But should I just be saying unspoken words to my family? Or should I think of what I would say to the grocery checker, the bag boy, the waitress, the total stranger, a fellow volunteer or a co-worker? What if it was the last time I would see them alive? Is there something I would have liked to tell them?
1 Thessalonians 5:11-18 (The Message)
11 So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.
12-13 And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!
13-15 Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.
16-18 Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.