“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” — Ephesians 5:1-2
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.
The one person at the microphones that I will not 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. 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.”
No matter what the circumstances, this is one of life’s deepest regrets – love that wasn’t expressed. The time to realize this truth is now, when the people you love are still here. 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. Love unexpressed is love unenjoyed.
I wouldn’t insult you by asking you if you love your mate, your parents, your children, or the other significant people in your life. I am sure you do, but it’s fair to ask this question – Do they feel loved by you? They may 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. 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 5:1-2 makes clear that giving out love is supposed to be the lifestyle of anyone who carries Christ’s name. The Bible says, “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma 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. 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. 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.”