Robbie said “Love you” to me for the first time in his life.
Oh sure, he’s made it abundantly clear all his life that he loves me and how much he loves me. Nobody loves like Robbie! Nobody hugs harder, squeezes your hand harder, or gives bigger, sloppier kisses than our precious boy. Nobody loves more unconditionally than Robbie—other than the Lord, of course. Nobody greets you with a bigger grin from ear to ear than Robbie or stares into your eyes with his heart in his own eyes, trying desperately to convey the message that he loves you. For someone who has never been able to speak, his message of love has come through loud and clear.
Before he became so very sick in 2001, Robbie did a little sign language. The area of his brain that controls speech was damaged, so over the years he learned about a dozen signs and could actually do about half of them. When he finally woke up after two long years of almost total silence and twenty hours of sleep a day, he had lost the ability to do even that. Gradually he regained two of those signs. “More music, please, Mommy” became simply “More, please” and more often than not, just “Please.” I have tried and tried to get him to sign “Mommy” and “Daddy” again, and although I can see he definitely recognizes those signs and could do them if he wanted to, he just laughs and grins and absolutely refuses to do them. He is pulling our chains—big time. ☺
Robbie had never signed “Love you,” though, even in his best years. The sign requires you to simply cross your hands over your heart, but maybe because it required using both hands at once instead of just one, he refused to even try. It never really bothered me, though for, as I said, there was never any doubt that he truly and whole-heartedly loved us.
When he suddenly signed it this week it came as a big shock. At first I couldn’t believe my eyes and thought surely it was just a fluke. He was looking at me with such expectancy in his eyes, though, and with such a big grin on his face that I asked incredulously, “Robbie, are you trying to tell me that you love me?” His face lit up and he got all excited. Mama had understood him! His first few attempts were a little crude—he couldn’t get his hands crossed quite right—but as the week went on they became clearer and he confidently and deliberately signed “Love you!” to me all week long.
Why would this be such a big deal if all along he’s shown me without a shadow of a doubt that he loves me? Don’t actions speak louder than words? After all, lots of people say those three little words, “I love you” and say them falsely. Words are easily said. Proving those words may not be so easy.
Well, first of all, those words did not come easily for Robbie. It took thirty-three years and a lot of hard effort on his part to “say” them. That makes them precious to me. Aside from that, however, is the fact that those words in particular are precious—to all of us—when they are said from a loving heart.
Actions do speak louder than words, but let’s not forget that the words are important, too. Just imagine if your husband brought home a paycheck, took out the garbage, mowed the lawn and even took you out for dinner now and then, but never, ever told you he loved you. Wouldn’t you feel a little hurt? Wouldn’t you feel that there was something missing?
God, our Heavenly Father, has shown us how much He loves us in many ways but the ultimate proof of His love is found in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrated his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…” and in John 15:13 we are told, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” His love does not stop with our salvation, though. Daily He blesses us “with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” (Psalm 103:4) We have the proof of His love in creation, and in His provision and protection, in healing and strength, in His grace and mercy. He makes us His children and loves us as a Father.
We see His love for us all around; we feel His love in our lives. How wonderful that He tells us of His love for us, too! In His love letter to us, the Word of God, He tells us, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3) In Romans 6:38, 39 we are told, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I’m so glad that we have that personal relationship with our Father in which He tells us of His love for us.
We need to tell Him, too, that we love Him. Our obedience to Him shows Him that we love Him. “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me…” (John 14:21a) God loves for us to tell Him that we love Him, too. That’s why He created us. We love to hear our spouse or children tell us they love us. What if they said, “But I just told you last week that I loved you. If anything changes, I’ll let you know!” That wouldn’t make us feel very good. Of course we know they love us, but we still want to hear it! That’s how God feels. He knows what’s in our hearts, but He wants to hear it. We tell Him we love Him with our thanksgiving and praise, in song and especially in prayer. We tell him why we love Him—not only for what He does for us, but for Who He is.
Words count. That’s why I was so thrilled when Robbie finally told me, in his own unique way, that he loves me, even though I knew it all along. That is why, the older I get, the more I see the importance of telling my family and friends that I love them. I try never to say goodbye to one of my loved ones without saying, “Love you!” to them. I don’t want them to just assume that I love them—I want them to hear it from my own lips. And I don’t want a day to go by without telling the Lord I love Him.
Words count. Make it a point today to tell the Lord, and the special people in your life, “Love you—criss-cross my heart!”