Yesterday, my oldest daughter and I had a brief conversation about a personal dilemma she was having with some friends at school. It was a lighthearted conversation on a topic she took very seriously – saying “I love you.”
While making a sandwich, she said how she felt awkward when at school, her friends say, “I love you” while saying goodbye leaving class. She said her response is typically something like. “I enjoy being in your presence too,” to which she often gets a cock-eyed look.
She went on to explain- it’s not that she doesn’t appreciate it being said, but that, for her, those words actually mean something important and she doesn’t want to give them out lightly, or as a generic greeting to everyone.
Personally, I connected right away with her quandary. Although I don’t remember many of my friends in high school coming up to me at the end of the day, giving me a hug and saying they loved me, when it came to girl friends, I was always very careful to choose my words of affection.
I felt the same way as my daughter. Those three words mean something to me beyond a salutation or something to be said at parting.
The words of The Princess Bride’s Inigo Montoya often came to mind. “You keep saying that word- I do not think it means what you think it means.”
It’s going to sound cliché, but the first person that wasn’t a family member that I said that to was actually Shannon (I know she probably doesn’t think I remember where we were, but the truth is we were sitting on her couch in her house when we were 17).
Then, this morning while eating breakfast, I was scrolling through YouTube and came across an interview with Kelly Clarkson (If you are a Friends fan, you will understand when I say she is on my “List”). In the interview, she was asked about her rough childhood with her parents’ divorce and money issues, then the interviewer asked about finding love.
Kelly essentially said the same thing my daughter said. She revealed that her husband was the first person she really meant it when she said, “I love you.” For her, those words mean something.
I’ve always wondered if my “I love you” hang up had to do with being a child of divorce. Like Kelly, is there a connection between my parents breaking up and my belief of commitment when saying those words?
However, my daughter certainly doesn’t have that challenge.
Maybe it was because I didn’t hear it that much as a kid. Then again, I’ve made an effort to make sure my kids don’t lack hearing it appropriately.
No matter the reason, I just really believe in the power of words. Those three words in particular. I think often times in our daily communication words are not respected in the way they were meant to be.
For example, is “integrity” situational, or is it the way you live?
Are you in a “commitment” until it is no longer convenient?
Is “I love you” a knee jerk reaction to someone saying it to you, or do you really mean it?
Do you practice “tolerance” as long as it is serving your cause or belief system?
Do you give “respect” to everyone, or only those who earn it?
Are your “values” the core of who you are, or are do they shift depending on the audience you’re with?
Are they really a “brave hero” who did something incredible or amazing, or did they just do the right thing?
Just because you claim it, does it really rise to the level of “expert” yet?
(Yes, I say this knowing it says “The Relationship Expert” above!)
In no way am I a wordsmith, and maybe I’m being way more cynical than I should be.
My challenge to you is to watch your words this week. Make sure you know that your word means what you think it means.
Do you really want to say a certain phrase that way, or will it hold more meaning if you chose to say something else? Do you actually mean it, or are you just responding with what you are “supposed” to say because of social pressure?
The only thing I could say to my daughter was that I agreed, and that I appreciated her conviction to the power of those words…and that I loved her.
Purpose, Passion and Play!