I was twenty-five the first time my dad told me he loved me. It’s not a slight on him. He grew up in a different culture and a different era, where it was the women that verbalized affection. Men were supposed to be stoic, stern, unflappable immovable mountains of grit and toughness that always had a quasi-constipated look about them.
I know my dad loved me; this is indisputable. It was getting it out that took him a little while. Even so, hearing it from him for the first time was unexpectedly impacting for me, so much so, that here I am, remembering the moment and writing about it twenty years later.
I’m not what one might call and gushy, emotive sort of fellow. So, no, we didn’t cry, or hug, or have hot flashes. I nodded, said I love you too dad, and we went on with our day. Still, something about hearing the words was more important to me than I realized it, because, over the years, I find myself going back to that moment, and yes, he has said it since, often, pretty much every time we talk on the phone or meet in person.
Because I realized that somewhere deep down I needed to hear the words even though I didn’t know I needed to hear them, every morning since my daughters were old enough to understand, I ask each one individually, did Tati tell you he loves you this morning?
It has become such common practice in our home, that if perchance I have a busy morning, and I fail to tell my daughters I love them, they remind me.
Unfortunately, we are far more likely to verbalize our animus than we are our affection. We are more likely to let the world know how much we dislike or even hate someone than we are to tell those we love that we love them.
We make up excuses as to why we don’t let the words roll off our tongues, from the ever-popular ‘they already know I love them, why should I keep reminding them,’ to the tried and true ‘what if I say it, and they don’t say it back?’.
Odd thing how we never try to qualify verbalizing our dislike of someone in the same manner. I’ve never heard anyone wonder about telling someone they hated them, for fear the individual might not return the sentiment in kind. I’ve never heard anyone attempt to explain away why they didn’t tell someone they disliked them by assuming they already knew.
No, if we dislike someone, if we hold animus, or yes, even if we hate somebody, we let them know clearly, loudly, and as often as humanly possible. We’ll make banners, signs, and t-shirts, buy bullhorns, and stand outside of their home so that everyone gets the message loud and clear. We’ll even go out of our way to insert their name in conversation with others in the off chance that they, too, will share our sentiment toward said individual.
Ever wonder what the world would be like if we spent half as much energy focusing on love as we do on animus? Ever wonder what the world would be like if we were as quick to tell someone we love them as we are to tell them we hate them?
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.