My husband tells me he loves me several times a month. Oh, I don’t mean that he snuggles up to me next on the couch and sweetly whispers in my ear while we are watching Shark Tank and splitting a thin crust veggie pizza, heavy on the sauce, which is our current practice on Friday nights these days. Nope. I hear his sentiment of love loud and clear in a different way.
When I hop in my vehicle and notice that the gas tank is full, and I didn’t fill it.
Now, that might not seem like a huge deal, a guy putting gas in a wife’s car tank. But for me, it speaks volumes. I don’t like the smell of gasoline. And I especially don’t like standing out in the bitter cold, like it soon will be in my home state of Michigan. Brrr! And I for sure don’t like it when I am on a trip—whether it is across the state or just across town—and I hear that familiar pinging sound alerting me to the fact that I am almost out of fuel.
My husband knows all of this about me. That is why, ever since we were able to afford a second car for me to drive, he has made sure it has plenty of gas, rarely letting the tank register below half full. If I were only looking for signs of his love in traditional ways—candy, flowers, or him actually verbalizing his love—I might have missed it. But my man tends to show other people he cares by completing tasks for them that help makes their life easier.
For me, it might also be doing up the dishes I didn’t get to the night before when he gets up at 4 AM to get ready for work. For our son, who recently purchased his first home, it might be going over there to help him install a window air conditioner or stain his new wood fence. He shows our youngest son love by doing things outdoors with him. They recently went on a father-son hike in the Grand Canyon, using two free airline tickets we had received. And, since our daughter lives several states away, he sometimes takes a few days off work to go down south to her house and tackle the “Daddy Do” list she has created of projects to be done in her mid-century home. And he shows love to his 90-year-old mother, who lives in an assisted living facility, by making the four-hour round trip some Saturdays just to take her out to lunch at Panera Bread for her favorite sandwich and a hot cup of coffee.
Using words of affection is certainly appropriate and effective. However, showing our love through nonverbal ways, especially acts of service, turns the volume up even more, conveying to our family members our deep love for them. 1 John 3:18 seems to encourage such behavior.
Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth. (CSB)
Certainly, this verse isn’t proposing that we shouldn’t show love verbally. Rather, it is urging us to not stop there. We ought to also convey our true feelings by backing them up with actions. You might complete a family member’s chore for them on a particularly busy day when they are tight on time. Or maybe you could run an errand for them such as dropping something off at the dry cleaners or picking up a library book. Any action that speaks love to them.
For me over the years, this has meant dozens—if not hundreds—of sticky notes I’ve left in my children’s schoolbooks and folders, my husband’s lunch pail, or on a mirror somewhere in the house, accompanied by a little gift. Sometimes I even took a ball point pen and wrote a message of love on a banana before tucking it in someone’s lunch bag for the day. My sticky note sentiments were coupled with homemade goodies, or maybe a little treat or trinket I had picked up for them when I was out and about shopping for the day.
Take a moment to think about what is most meaningful to the members of your family. Jot down each of their names and, just after them, write down at least one action that you think would speak love to them. Try to crawl into their brain and get specific, recording something that you might not enjoy, but that they would be touched by.
So as to not just have this be an exercise in thinking—but one that takes action—look back over the list of people. Whip out your calendar app on your phone—or your paper calendar on your desk—and write one name of a family member on the first day of one month in the next year. Then, when you see their name pop up at the beginning of the month, follow through with your good intentions by performing one of the actions of love sometime during their assigned month.
Are you ready to love your loved ones not just with your spoken words but by springing into action?
Love in word. But also, love in deed. This will indeed convey your love to your family. (See what I did right there?)
Would you love to discover more practical ways to show love not only to your family members, but to all the people that God puts in your path? Pre-order Karen Ehman’s newest book, Reach Out, Gather In: 40 Days to Opening Your Heart and Home by October 19 and receive a bonus package of digital resources including menu-planning and shopping sheets, make-ahead recipes, a monthly clutter-busting and cleaning plan, and simple decorating ideas using items found in nature. Click here for more details.