This past Sunday was Mother’s Day . For some, it’s a day of celebration and pampering. For others, it is a painful time, with thoughts of inadequacy or guilt—on the part of the mother or the child. I’m not sure who began the Mother’s Day/Father’s Day/Grandparent’s Day events, but it seems to make for a mixed bag. Flowers, meals, cards, and visits aside—I agree with those who say that every day should be a day to celebrate our parents, grandparents, teachers, children, or whomever else we love.

My husband and I were out of town for the weekend of Mother’s Day. I knew I could count on my “bookend children”—the oldest and the youngest—to call first thing.  The others, true to form, made that call later in the day.  What mattered was that the calls were made to say “I love you.” There is nothing better—no object, trinket, or anything temporal—than hearing those words!

The underlying blessing is in sharing and feeling the love.  It makes the world a better place.

I remember the story of a young missionary who was serving in Pennsylvania . At a conference, the mission president told each missionary that he/she should call home before the day was over and express love to their father. One young man approached the mission president before leaving, and said: “President, I just can’t do that. I can’t tell my dad I love him. I don’t think I’ve ever said it to him in my whole life. We just don’t do that.”

“Well,” the wise mission president responded, “today gets to be your first time. Make that call and then report to me.”

“I can’t even think about doing it until later in the evening, when my dad gets home from work. And then I don’t know if he has meetings afterwards,” the missionary said.

The excuses continued. The challenge was not removed…. A phone call was to be made, and a report given before the day was over.

The hours passed, and no phone call came from this young missionary. Finally, the president and his wife retired for the night.  Much later, the phone rang. Answering, the president heard an excited voice on the other end of the line, “President! I DID it! I called home!”

“Tell me about it.”

“Well, it was really late because I kept putting it off, and my parents were already in bed. When mom answered—because I had made a few phone calls late at night earlier in my youth—she asked: “What have you done?”

“Nothing, Mom, I just called to tell you I love you. And I need to speak to dad so I can tell him, too.”

“When my dad got on the line, I told him I loved him.”

“Dad, I know I haven’t really ever said it, but I love you. I just want you to know that.”

“It was quiet for a time, and then I heard the tears he was shedding. He told me he loved me, too.”

Apparently, tears were shared by a child, and both his parents before that tender phone call ended.

“After talking to mom for a few seconds, and telling her again that I love her and dad, we hung up.  President, it was awesome!”

A wise mission president thanked the missionary for his call, wished him a good night, and then offered a prayer of thanks for the goodness that was shared.

Such a simple thing, but with it comes such a large impact for good. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to believe that the young missionary had a better night’s sleep, a better day—a better mission—because he shared such important words.

When we show love, who receives the most?  Consider this sweet quote from Nancy Thayer: “Who is getting the more pleasure from this rocking, the baby or me?”

When I think of the hours I have rocked my babies, knowing they felt the love and security with me, it has surely been I who has enjoyed the larger blessing.

Times of sacrifice, times of prayer, moments of fun and great joy, sweet and tender memories of good times and hard times—they all add to our love quotient.  As I look back, there have been lovely surprises in the form of thoughtful gifts. But the emotional attachment has come from the love with which the gift was given.  And the sweetest memories include not a thing worldly, but the grand and eternal emotions attached to hearing those three beautiful words.

If you are a fan of Mother’s Day, and didn’t have a chance to do something for your mom—go give her a hug and say, “I love you.” Or give her a call—even a text—and remind her. If you are in a situation which doesn’t offer a loving relationship to celebrate, say those words to someone else you care about. It will make their day. Because there are so many different ‘kinds’ of love, we can say “I love you” to lots of people! 

  • Even if it’s hard, try it. The next time, it will be easier to say, and so it will go, until it seems natural. Our Father in Heaven loves for us to share love—and this is a beautiful, effective, and simple way of doing so.
  • Think positive, loving thoughts about your family members. Remember the good times, and allow those thoughts to give you strength to share those words.
  • Jesus, our truest friend, feels strongly about friendship. Those long-term, dear friends we have had for a while could probably be buoyed up by our simple words expressing love.
  • If there is an obstacle preventing you from saying “I love you” or even feeling love, pray for a way to put away hard feelings and build love.
  • Cast away the attitude that we must buy something, or dazzle our parent, our child, our friend, or whomever—the true gift is the sharing of the feelings.
  • Gratitude is a necessary trait to carry and to show.  One great way of showing gratitude is to say “I love you” and then add thanks for those things your loved one does for you.

Saying “I love you” is a simple, childlike thing. It is only when many of us grow up and become jaded, or hurt, or betrayed, that those words are hard to say.  Oh, how I pray and hope for each of us to jump in the waters of love, splash around, swim in the warmth of it, and share it! Like the young missionary, we may learn how very good it feels to pass the loving words [and the actions] around.

Enjoy Mother’s Day, Father’s Day , Groundhog Day , or Artichoke Day. Celebrate and do what seems the correct thing to do. If it is an excuse for a party—awesome. Have a great one!  But it feels good to keep those thoughts of love and gratitude and goodness foremost in our thoughts … ongoing. It allows the sweetness of the Holy Spirit to attend us and allows the goodness of heaven to be about us. Like an ounce of prevention, love is good medicine for the soul that keeps away many a dark hurt, or allows us to carry on when those dark hurts come.

Every day can be a day to celebrate “I love you!”