Wednesday, November 6, 2002
For me, it was the most heart-rending moment of the September 11 first anniversary observation at Ground Zero. There, at the very site where nearly 3,000 people died in the World Trade Center towers on that awful morning, thousands now were gathered for a solemn commemoration of their lives and of their deaths. The name of every victim was read aloud. But the one person at the microphones that I will not soon forget was a 17-year-old young woman who read a letter that she had written in memory of the stepfather she lost on that fateful September 11. Her letter was tenderly and lovingly written. But near the end, she read a simple admission that really touched me, and must have touched many others very deeply. She just said, "I don't know when was the last time I told you, 'I love you.'"
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Unexpressed Love."
No matter what the circumstances, that is one of life's deepest regrets - love that wasn't expressed. The time to remember that is right now, when folks you love are still there. And a teenage girl's tearful regret at Ground Zero is a powerful reminder to all of us that we need to be expressing our love to the people around us, at many times, in many ways. Because love unexpressed is love unenjoyed.
I wouldn't insult you by asking you if you love your mate, if you love your parents, if you love your children, the significant people in your life. Of course you do. But it's fair to ask this question - "Do they feel loved by you?" Maybe not, if you haven't told them recently, if you haven't shown them recently in their language of love. Sometimes we do things because we do love the other person, but it isn't just the kind of thing that makes them feel loved. For many of us, we feel loved when someone takes time to listen to our heart, when someone goes out of their way to encourage us, when someone shows us grace and forgiveness when we don't deserve it. And all of us need to be told - and told regularly - that we're loved. "I love you 'til further notice" just doesn't cut it!
Ephesians 5:1, our word for today from the Word of God, makes clear that giving out love is supposed to be the lifestyle of anyone who carries Christ's name. The Bible says, "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Notice the two words that are linked here - love and sacrifice. Letting someone know we love them almost always means doing something that's inconvenient, or something we don't have time for, or something that's a stretch for us. But that's when they know we love them.
You make that person you love feel loved by loving them when they've failed, when they hurt you or let you down, when you just take time to be with them, or when you do whatever you have to do to be there for what's important to them. And when they're the hardest to love, that's when they need your love the most! And when they'll feel it the most.
So consciously, intentionally, regularly let the people you love know you love them. We never know which time will be the last time. So don't ever let much time slip away without letting them hear and feel your "I love you."