A close friend had been sick and in the hospital and was rapidly declining. My wife and I went to visit him. We didn’t know it would be the last time we would ever see him when we walked into his room, but he seemed to know it.
He was especially tender and his words were measured as he recounted many things we had done in the past. There was a lot of laughter and some tears. Just before we left I prayed for him and we clasped hands. When I finished he continued to hold his hands around mine, and expressed a heartfelt thanks for our friendship. When I walked out of the room I knew it was the last time I would see him until we were in Heaven together. He passed away the next day.
Something about the ending of life brings clarity and an urgency to express the deepest feelings of our heart.
I’ve seen it happen often as a pastor, where unsaid words are finally shared. An affirmation, an apology, a sacred remembrance is mentioned, a blessing that has been neglected is finally offered. Tears are usually shed. I’ve heard regrets spoken, too, in funeral homes standing beside coffins because of words that were never shared.
These experiences have motivated me to tell my loved ones and friends how I feel about them – today, before it’s too late. I want them to know that I love them and so I had rather be free with my words rather than wish later I had told them.
Friends share their hearts, at least they desire to, and it is the shrinking of time that often forces those unsaid words that have been neglected. Husbands and wives, the best of friends, ought to do so on a regular basis.
One of the positive qualities of the businessman, Boaz, in the Bible, is how he freely communicated his heart with his coworkers. He cared about them and blessed them verbally.
- He greeted those whom he employed with a blessing – “And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee.” (Ruth 2:4) As I imagine this scene I hear him say it cheerfully. They responded with a blessing in return to him. Perhaps they learned it from his frequent example of kind words.
- He was attractive to Ruth (his future wife) because of his words – “Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens.” (Ruth 2:13) She specifically mentions the nature of his words as what stood out to her. (That is not only important to a woman, but also to a man).
One of the ways a husband or wife can tell when their partner begins to become indifferent toward them is by the tone of their voice.
Whenever we see someone’s countenance light up when we approach them, their tone is kind and gracious when they speak to us, and they are genuinely interested in what we have to say it is attractive to us and we are drawn to them. These qualities are absent when one is bored with a person.
Because our words are powerful we ought to ask God to help us to guard how we speak to others. Especially to those we love the most. It is easy to assume upon them and treat other people better than those that are closer to us.
“The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary…” (Isaiah 50:4)
“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23)
How can we improve in communicating our feelings to the one we love the most?
- Communicate your feelings in a note. Some people write their feelings better than expressing them verbally. Also, another advantage to writing them is the recipient can keep your gift of words and review them later.
- Say the usual in a different way. Take time to think about how you feel and say it in a fresh way. What happens when one says, “I love you” or “You’re a great friend” in different words? It gives it a little more impact and helps them to remember it. How about, “You are so special to me…you are a gift from God to me…you make my life better…I can’t believe how blessed I am to have you in my life”. Of course, you have to mean what you say, but when ideas aren’t clothed in tired phrases it jolts our brain and helps to receive the message better.
- Get over your reticence to express yourself. Some temperaments are not as expressive as others. Some people have negative family experiences that have brought hurt into their life. They struggle to share their hearts. Whatever the case may be, the time will come when you will wish that you had.
- Say it in time. Don’t procrastinate. The window of opportunity may be closing and you don’t know it. I don’t think one can say “thank you” too much to someone that has blessed them. So, don’t just express yourself on one occasion, learn to tell them often.
My wife is my best friend and I want her not only to know that, but also to know how much I love her. My mother is still living and I want her to know how important she is to me. I want my children and grandchildren to know that they are incredibly special to my heart.
I am a debtor.
“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone”. (Harriet Beecher Stowe)