Pastor Tom Tripp: Don't let your love go unspoken
Three recent experiences have gotten me to thinking about the importance of expressing our love — especially to our children.
The first event was the sudden death of a friend. He was hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains where he had hiked frequently (including two trips to the top of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the continental United States). While hiking, he had a massive heart attack and died on the trail.
At his funeral, his three children (a daughter and two sons — just like my family configuration) spoke of their relationship with their father. Others spoke of the quality of Henry's life and of the wonderful things he had done, but his children spoke of their relationship with their father. They talked about the varied and many ways he had expressed his love to them. I realized there is nothing I would want more at my death (other than the certainty of my salvation) than to know that my children and my wife know that I loved them. I don't have a lot of money to leave them at my death, but I hope that I can leave them a greater legacy than money; I hope that I can leave them the confidence that they were loved. (Even if I had a lot of money to leave them, I truly believe that a lot of money at my death would not mean as much to the positive shaping of their lives as a lot of love given to them throughout their lives.)
The second event was a conversation with my brother. He spoke of how our father always bragged to him about me, and I told him that our father always bragged to me about him. Our father is not good about complimenting us directly, so both my brother and I grew up thinking our father liked the other one better. (My wise wife pointed out to me that the reason my father has difficulty complimenting his children is because despite how much he accomplished in his life, he never heard a compliment about it from his mother.) I got to worrying that perhaps I had done the same to my children, so I called each of them on the phone and told each one the many things I admire and respect and appreciate about them, and I stressed to them my love for them.
The third event was reading Bruce Wilkinson's book, "The Secrets of the Vine." In this book, Wilkinson points out that many Christians believe God loves the world but doesn't particularly like them. Why do we end up believing such a thing? The reason why many people believe this is because they did not feel particularly loved by their own parents. When we don't feel loved by our earthly parents, whom we saw and heard with our own eyes and ears, it is hard to believe that a Heavenly Parent whom we cannot see or hear would actually hold us dear to His heart. I don't want my children to doubt that God actually cares for them, so I want to be certain to communicate to them how much I love them.
As parents, one of the most important things we can do in life is to express to our children in a variety of ways the depth of our love for them.
It doesn't start or stop with parenting. In marriage, one of the most crucial things we can do for the sake of our marriage is to express to our partner the depth of our love for her (or for him). In life in general, one of the most important things we can do is to express to the people we care about how important they are to our lives and how highly we think of them.
Give it a try. Make a positive difference in the life of someone you care about: Tell that person what you think of him or her.
Tom Tripp is pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Colusa.