“I Love You”

February 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Life 

(Note – this post is NOT a fishing expedition.  I’m not looking for compliments or statements that you weren’t planning on making anyway.  This is just my observations.)

Valentine’s Day is coming up.  Love is in the air (though we’re a bit more concerned about snow these days).  Thoughts of love both romantic and filial abound.  Even my pastor is doing a sermon series on love.

This got me thinking last night.  How many people have ever told me “I love you”?  It’s a short list, though longer than I’d expected:

My mother
My father
My 2 grandmothers
My uncle on Mom’s side
My aunt and uncle on Dad’s side (not so sure about my uncle, but he meant it)
My father-in-law and mother-in-law
My brother-in-law
Heather (not sure about this one – it was a LONG time ago)
My youth pastor years ago
The Youth Director at my church today (I think)
Lorelei from camp
Certainly a few others from camp, but I’m at a loss to identify who

Now, this includes both romantic love and the “I love you, as a friend” variety.  Either implies a deep connection and interest in the well-being of the other party.

There are a few statements that do NOT qualify in my book:

“I love you for X” – for doing the dishes, for being a great friend, for painting a room at church.  All of these are great, but the statement is missing the love of the whole person.
“I’ll love you 100 days if you Z” – if you give me a ride to the airport, if you clean up the kitchen.  True love has no expiration date, though it may end.
“Love ya” – a closing salutation used a lot on e-mail.  This is a cop-out – a way to avoid “I Love You” when it’s not really felt.
“Honey, I love you but I just can’t smile” – this is a youth group game, not a statement of devotion
“I love it when you Y” – again, too specific

The list of people that I’ve said “I love you” to does not match the list above.  It’s longer, and there are some folks on that list who are not on my list above.  I also tend to make deep connections a bit more quickly than others and I have a nasty tendency to try to connect deeper than the other party.  So I’m prone to unbalanced relationships, where my devotion is greater than the other party.  I’m working on that.

And I firmly believe that there are people who actually DO love me but who haven’t said so, because doing so is risky and may flout societal conventions (particularly because I’m married and a statement from another woman, even as a friend, could be misconstrued).  And there are certainly MANY more people that I DO love that I can’t say it to.  The youth in my youth group, some other church folks, a few former co-workers.  I do love them but to say so to them would be disruptive and cause more trouble than it would fix.  In a different world, it would be different.

I also have a longish list of people whose 3am phone calls I would take, for any reason.  There are people for whom I’d jump out of bed and into the car if they called me in the middle of the night.  That list overlaps my list of people that I love, but is not a 100% match.

Maybe it’s my church involvement, maybe I’m a throwback, and maybe I’m just weird.  But I think the world would be a better place if we all knew what other people think of us more accurately.  There’s risk involved there, and possibly hurt feelings, but the world would just run that little bit more smoothly if we knew.  Maybe we can start with the positive emotions.

So my challenge to you is this:  Sometime in the next week or so, say “I love you” to someone that you love but haven’t said it to yet (it doesn’t have to be me!).  Use disclaimers if you must (“as a friend”).  Do it in e-mail or on paper if you can’t say it out loud.  But tell somebody that they are loved.  It will mean the world to them.