They are three of the simplest words in the entire English language: I. Love. You.
And yet strung together, they create one of the most powerful statements we can utter to another human being.
I wish these words would tumble off my tongue often and easily. I am embarrassed and sad to say they don’t. And this has become a problem for me. This past summer, it almost cost me my marriage. It took a 10-week separation from my husband to realize that my fear of intimacy wasn’t protecting me, but destroying me and everything I did indeed love. I decided not only did I want to become more loving, I wanted to be able to express myself more lovingly.
I know there are other ways to show and express affection and love — indirectly and through loving actions, and without actually uttering those actual three simple words. However, I am a woman of words, a writer who can clearly express herself in so many ways and in so many other situations. And yet, with love I fumble around unnecessarily, hemming and hawing, afraid to utter one simple phrase. To put it bluntly, I am a LOVE COWARD.
So why do so many of us beat around the bush and take the indirect route to expressing love, when the actual words have such immediate and awesome meaning and power? Why let others wonder what we feel… when we can tell them with just three simple words? What are we afraid of?
I come from a family that never utters these words, at least not to each other. Until I began my quest to become more loving, I thought this was perfectly normal and natural. I imagine there are lots of other families like this. We have always expressed our bond with each other through actions – by showing up and lending a helping hand whenever needed. But those three simple words? They weren’t in our family’s vocabulary when I was growing up.
When my kids were born, I heaped love on them (or as much love as I was capable of giving/showing). Still, when they were toddlers, they’d fight something awful. I mean, they really used to battle with each other for my attention. They both wanted to be center stage in my life and that often led them to rumble. I used to wonder if I was doing something wrong as a mother. Why didn’t my kids get along? I also wondered why my kids couldn’t seem to tolerate sharing their space or my attention with each other — especially since they had a lot more space and attention than my siblings or I had growing up.
However, despite this rough early start, or perhaps as a result of this very intense internal power struggle, my children have grown into two lovely teenagers who have a very obvious affection and love for one another. They don’t just put up with each other because they share the same parents or situation. They hug each other, and tell each other they miss and love the other quite often. They don’t beat around the love bush.
I LOVE YOU.
Such a simple and powerful statement.
I don’t have to wonder if my kids are “close” because I see it so clearly in their affectionate actions and words. They are my LOVE HEROES.
Seeing how easily these three simple words slip off my children’s tongues warms my heart and gives me hope. It helps me realize that even though it hasn’t always been easy for me to express my love freely — even to my husband or to my children, i.e. the people I absolutely 100% love and adore the most — that I was able, along with the help of my husband, to create and sustain an environment where LOVE and AFFECTION is expressed and appreciated. And for that, I do feel extremely blessed and grateful.
Still, my greatest desire at this stage of my life is to become more loving. Following my heart, and not my head, is my number one goal and priority. I no longer need to be the smartest, most driven gal in the room. I’d much rather be known as the calm, fun-loving woman who always has a hug at the ready. And I want the people who are close to me to know that I do indeed 100% love them exactly as they are. I don’t want those three simple words to terrify me anymore.
Words absolutely have power.
So, I have to be bold, be brave, be strong…
I have to become a WARRIOR of LOVE.
I LOVE YOU.
See, now that wasn’t so hard.
A TDL Reader