More Than Words

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. I Corinthians 13:1-2, MSG

Love is more than words.

These are the words on the sign that sits above our TV. A sign. A big joke with our kids-mom’s love of signs with phrases and sayings, slathered all around the house. When we shop, the common refrain is, “You don’t need another sign!”

But this one, it had a purpose. A meaning. It was bought to represent a journey in this home. A reminder to all of us. That words at times were meaningless. Especially if they were hard to express.

Love is more than words.

Our son, Hunter, was diagnosed with autism before the age of 3. For many years, words were very hard for him, especially words that expressed any kind of feeling. Emotions did not come out in eloquent speech, but rather kicks, screams, and grunts. While there are many conversations these days in which I wonder if he will stop talking, those are courtesy of many hours of speech therapy, and years of early intervention services.

One thing was always certain.

He can’t at times say he is simply hungry. He has a hard time expressing worry. Anger. Sadness. But he knows the language of love. Without words. And we in turn have learned it, too.

It is expressed in the endurance it takes to sit through one of his tantrums. The patience. The understanding. Knowing it is nothing personal. It is just the internal battle in this kid’s system.

It is in the way he gives. He is a giver. He has spent his last dollar at the school book fair, so his sister can have something, too. Bringing home a poster for her room. Her favorite at the time. Unicorns.

It is in the hugs. Though he can’t always speak love, he can feel love. He is a cuddler, and has been since the beginning. A child who has always craved touch. A bear hug. A deep back rub. A squeeze to calm him down and let him know he is OK.

It is in the patience it takes at times to practice the things that come easier to others. Jumping rope for instance. For several nights in a living room, because balance issues are a thing, too. Anxiety runs in tandem, and jumping rope wasn’t second nature. Using words to teach this lesson wouldn’t do the trick.

Love is more than these.

Words are often superfluous. Used as fillers. Used to tout knowledge. Used at times to get one’s way. Feed desires. Sometimes deceive. They can mean a variety of things. Be taken out of context. And I am saying this as a writer!

For someone who takes them literally, like Hunter, words can be difficult. The action of love-not so much.

Do your words line up with your actions? If you had to experience a life without the use of language, or a different understanding of the use of it, how would your expression of love measure up? Would you be a rusty gate?

Love. It’s more than just words. It’s the small things we do each and every day.

How are you doing when you don’t use words?

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