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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Has something ever happened to you that cut deeply into your soul?  Have you ever allowed someone access to your heart and you ended up being hurt by them?  Have you ever loved someone unconditionally, given them your trust and found that they misused it?  Have you ever been blind-sided by an event in life involving someone you love?

Have you ever been the perpetrator of such hurt?  Have you ever been responsible for the pain of a loved one or a broken heart?  Has something ever happened in your life that you have felt the heartbreak that accompanies the knowledge that you have done damage to someone you love?

If you have been one either side of this spectrum, you are not alone.  Unfortunately for everyone, it seems that most of us have been hurt beyond words.  We know that feeling of betrayal, the sense of deceit, the break of a heart.   And likewise, many of us have been the source of a loved one’s pain and are familiar with the heartache and the broken spirit that is the result of hurting someone you love.  Many of us know that it hurts just as much, albeit differently, to be the broken hearted or to have caused the broken heart.

So when this has happened, when we are dealing with hurt feelings of this magnitude, what do we do to move on from the pain?  It certainly can be hard to be sure.  It can be quite difficult to know the best way to tend to such deep wounds while also moving forward, both with your relationship and with your life.  There is no easy way to decide if it is time to let go and when it is time to continue fighting for something you love.  Rarely is there a right or wrong way to nurse our wounds while also experiencing life as best we can.

But, I must say that even while it may be hard to know how to best recover from your pain and move forward in some way, many of us do have an idea about what we need and what might be most right for ourselves and the relationships that we are in.  Many of us have a voice that resides deep within us that whispers to us, offering us guidance and direction towards healing.  Many of us know, somewhere within us, the path it is that we should follow.  Most of us have something within ourselves that has utmost faith in our ability to recover, to carry on, and to flourish.  Something that trusts, something that wants to guide us toward love again.  Something helps us look inward in order to move forward, mending both the wounds in our hearts, as well as our loved one’s.

Even while that something within you might be difficult to hear or understand, it is worth your while to at least give it a chance.  Pause, listen and reflect on what it is trying to tell you.  Consider the message it is giving you about yourself and those you care about so that you may tend to your wounds, give and receive love, and begin to experience life as fully as possible once again.