It's just 3 short words, but the phrase ‘I love you' has such power to touch us in the depths of our being. They can be such beautiful words when said with authenticity, but their memory can cut deep when trust is broken. They are so often used lightly, or without knowing their real meaning. In past relationships I thought I knew what these words meant, and that my love was genuine. But it's so easy to think you love someone when you simply love the way they make you feel at that moment.
Early on in my current relationship, I was wrestling with the idea of whether it was too early to say ‘I love you', and when I would know that I really meant those words. I waited until I felt my heart would burst if I held it back any longer, and then I said it, with the disclaimer that ‘I hope this time my love is genuine'. Since God's love has transformed our lives, we have learned to love each other in authentic ways, and we keep learning more of what real love looks like.
So what does ‘I love you' mean to me now?
It means that knowing you is one of the greatest privileges I have ever known, for you are unique and amazing in every way.
It means that I see beyond that which most people see; I seek to know the very core of who you are, and that is the part of you I love the most.
It means that I never feel I have to ‘tolerate' you, as it's a joy to me to know you as you really are, even when you're tired, grumpy, or not yourself, and to share your struggles as well as your joys.
It means I feel comfortable to be me with you, and I mean me in every way. I can be vulnerable with you about my emotions and weaknesses, and I can fully trust you to still love me.
It means that I want to do whatever I can to show my love to you, support you, inspire you, help you come to your full potential and find fullness of life, and I want to keep learning how to do those things better.
And it means many more things; more than words can express. Experiencing another person's love for me has given me a fuller picture of the way God loves us. I believe all love comes from God, and that human expressions of love are simply a miniature reflection of His love for us, which is far bigger than we can ever imagine.