Magic Words

I once attended a wedding where the pastor ‘s homily revolved around four short phrases of three simple words that loved ones should say to each other every day.

The first phrase he told us to say to one another is, “I love you”. For many of us, it seems, this phrase comes with relative ease. We say it to everyone we love when we feel affectionate, as part of our farewells, and quite often, we say it as much for ourselves as we do for those that we love. The words “I love you” expose our truest selves to others and welcomes them into our hearts.

The words “I love you” are important, as they express some of the deepest emotions that we may ever know. Love is such a fundamental part of life, and it is the cornerstone of everything good and rewarding in this life. And by expressing love for someone, we allow it to flow freely while making it known that we have invested our hearts in them.

The second phrase he told us to say each day is, “I thank you”. Again, “thank you” is a relatively easy thing to say. And while we often say thank you as a formality, the “thank you’s” that matter most are those that are an intentional and meaningful expression of gratitude and appreciation. These heartfelt messages are important amongst loved ones because they remind us that we have not been taken for granted and that we are cherished by those closest to us.

The third phrase the pastor instructed us to say is “I am sorry.” As I have written in the past, “I’m sorry” can be a hard thing to say. It can be hard to admit fault, to give in, and to face the pain that we may have caused in others.  Yet even while a genuine apology can be difficult, it is important because it acknowledges the feelings of our loved ones, it offers humility, and shows that we are sensitive to the experience of others.

The final phrase to include each day is  “I forgive you”. Much like apologies, words of forgiveness can be difficult to say. Sometimes, it does not occur to us to even mutter these words as we assume that forgiveness has been implied by our actions. Yet then again, forgiveness in and of itself can be difficult because it may feel risky.  When we forgive, we may feel that we are “giving in”, negating our feelings, or even putting ourselves in a position to be hurt again. Yet forgiveness is such an important part of our relationships because it signifies love, trust, compassion, and forward movement.

Today, I encourage you to reflect on the four phases listed above. Consider who you might say them to, and think about who you may need to hear them from, whether that is your significant other, your child, your friend, or yourself. Take a moment to reflect on your feelings in these relationships, and the, go ahead and tell them how you feel.

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