I have made it a habit to tell my girls I love them numerous times each and every day. I do this for several reasons. First, because it is true! Second, because I want them to know, no matter what happens in this life that their daddy loved them always. Third, if something happens to me I can die with no doubt that they knew I loved them deeply. Fourth, it is good for their self-esteem and development. And, I could go on and on.
I suppose if I had to boil it all down it would be simply this: I want them to know, beyond any doubt, I love them completely. You see, this is a conscious decision I have made. It didn’t happen by accident. I won’t rely on someone else to tell them for me.
Affection is not always easy for me. As I’ve stated in previous posts, I am more comfortable surrounded by books than by people. I have never been an overly affectionate type of person, at least in my adult years. Oh, I have my moments, but it is not my natural recourse for the most part. However, with God’s help, I wanted that to be different with them. I wanted to be a man of affection and emotion for them.
Some fathers have the mentality of striking fear in the hearts of their children. I don’t argue that some fear (by this I would mean respect, not trepidation) is important. A child should respect their parent, at least this is what I believe. However, I don’t want fear to be their first and principle emotion when it comes to me. First and foremost, I want them to think of love. I’d rather win them faithfully with love, through hard work and tears of grace and shoulders of mercy; than quickly and easily by fear. Yes, I want their respect. But, I think respect will be natural as they understand more and more my love for them.
The other day, I told my three-year old I had a secret to tell her. She leaned her head toward me, placing her right ear at my mouth. I whispered, I love you! She shot her head to the opposite side, looked at me with an ear to ear grin on her face and said in a chuckling voice, Daddy, that’s not a secret!
As she said it, tears came to my eyes. I thought, Hey, she gets it! She’s right. It is no secret I love her. She knows it. So does anyone else who has been around us. I am not ashamed of my love for her. I am not ashamed that she is my daughter.
God’s love for us is no secret either. He has shouted it from the far corners of the cosmos. He has declared it through countless poems and songs. He has stated it forthrightly for any and all to hear. He says it with exuberance, with joy, with a smile on his face. He wraps his arms around us and says it.
There are several passages that point this out. Of course, we all know the great gospel truth of John 3.16. I also like some of John’s other passages, particularly those found in his letter 1 John. Here are just a few verses from this letter that reminds us that God’s love for us is no secret!
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are . . . By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us . . . Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so the we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another . . . We love because he first loved us.
1 John 3.1, 3.16; 4.7-11, 19