Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Love Is Not Always Obvious

I was driving down the road at a conference this week when I came upon a huge sign that said Hell Is Real.  That was it.  No explanation, no place to find out more, just this in-your-face message about Hell.  Well, I'm thinking, cancer is real and abuse is real and messy marriages are real.  They're all bad, too.  Why don't we put them up on big signs reminding people of their existence?

Some of us probably remember when the John 3:16 placards were in every end zone of the football games each weekend. I always wondered how many people even knew what John 3:16 said anymore and even if they did, would they all of a sudden think, "Oh yeah, that's about Jesus being the savior of the world. I'd better think about that?"  I doubt it.

You see unfortunately,when it comes to messages many people think that other people just get it.  They believe that no matter what else is going on at the time or what form our communication takes, if we're sincere and the message is important others will figure it out.

Wrong. Communication is both an art and a skill. We dare not assume that people will embrace our message just because we think we've put it out there.  And most importantly we must learn to communicate well when it comes to those we love the most. For example,what if someone were to ask your children, do your parents really love you?  Particularly consider about the older ones who can now think subjectively.

Would they respond with a resounding "yes?"  Maybe. But some of them may wonder about our love because we haven't said it lately or we've missed sharing a compliment or encouragement of late.  We may be providing for their needs and attending their events but have we looked them in the eye and told them we love them just because?

How about our spouse?  Same questions. Don't assume they just know of our love, pride in them and appreciation.

Here are the problems with the signs I mentioned earlier.  They first of all have no context.  There's no explanation, no relationship and no understanding of the reader.  Our comments in our families have so much more potential because they can be heard in the context of a home.  But we must speak the words.  Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).

Second, we must offer more detail. It's great to say love you! on a regular basis as a little reminder of our affections.  I do.  But at times we must say and offer more.  Sometimes we need to tell something specific about them that we especially love.  Yes, our love is to be unconditional, but detail adds to the depth of our commitment.

Third, we must speak it loudly. No, I don't mean you need to shout.  But we used to talk about a principle in drama that makes sense here.  If you want your expression to reach the back of the room you had to sometimes make it larger than normal.  It felt weird on stage but it made sense to the people in the last row. In the same way sometimes we'll need to repeat our expressions of affection.  Other times we need to make a big deal of them through a gift, surprise or special honor.  You'll have to determine what's appropriate and helpful.

In fact Gary Chapman's series of books on the 5 Love Languages would help you learn how different people feel loved in varying ways.

So today and this week when you want to show your love, be obvious.  Just don't put it on a sign, OK?
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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