"I Love You"

I won't ever forget it. I was sitting on my bed in my college dorm room listening to my roommate talk to their mom. I had never heard someone talk to their mom the way he did. With "I love you's" and "I can't wait to see you mom" statements, I just couldn't handle it anymore. So I tried to ignore it, and tried to tune it out. 

But as I processed the next few days and as I heard my other roommates say similar things to their parents, I couldn't help but evaluate my relationship with my parents. 

Growing up, we never were that affectionate.

Growing up, we never were that affectionate. Even the word "affection" is hard to chew. My mom and dad worked really hard to love me with their sacrifice and service working full-time. They provided everything I needed (except for emotional support I later found out). But I didn't even realize it at the time, but the emotional support was what I needed as I left for college and began my journey into adulthood. 

I will never forget the moment my dad said, "I love you." It was over the phone and I was leading worship at a summer camp. During that camp I had a lot of time to talk with God. During the day we would have space to walk around the great redwood forest or listen to the river running through the canyon. It was in this space that I began to ask the question, "What did I need from my parents growing up?" So I called me dad one day to let him know how I was doing. At the end of the phone call, rather than immediately hanging up, I said, "Dad, I love you." After a pregnant pause, he reciprocated. Wow did that feel awkward. It was so weird to hear that because honestly I had never heard it before. Those three words, although it can become cliche, changed the way I felt about my dad and changed the way I saw me. 

I had never heard that growing up. It was foreign to me. But when he said it, it was like a fresh start. It was words that anyone else could say to me but without the same kind of impact or power. 

As I reflect on this defining moment, I am grateful for it. It's so true. It's easy to recognize that security, finances, health, etc. are really important to have in our lives. But what about emotional health? What about emotional stability and security? Growing up I did't have a lot of that. It has taken me years to figure that part out, but it has changed everything about me. 

If we as individuals aren't emotionally stable through love and acceptance, then I believe somewhere down the line--at work, school, home--we will crack.

If we as individuals aren't emotionally stable through love and acceptance, then I believe somewhere down the line--at work, school, home--we will crack. There will be a day when money won't be enough to cover our pain. There will be a day when the love of your life just won't be enough. There will be a day when your grades will fail you. So why not start working on our emotional stability today? Why not listen to the voice of God calling out to us, "I love you" even if you never received that from your parents. 

My journey hasn't been an easy one, but I know it's one that others can resonate with. If you find yourself asking, "Did I receive love growing up?" then you may want to pursue resources to help unpack some of those emotions.