A Father’s Day Lesson: Love
I have read enough men’s ministry books and been to several men’s retreats to know one thing: men have a hard time showing and expressing love. Not only have I read about this issue from books and heard it from men’s conference speakers, I have had men sit in my office and tell me the same thing. They have sat across from me and told me how they have trouble telling and showing those who are the closest to them that they love them. I guess it’s a man thing. Countless men have this issue. I have often questioned why? Why do most men have a problem saying and showing that four letter word? Is it a macho thing? Does saying I love you make men look like sissies? I don’t think so, but I don’t know. I guess there could be many reasons why. However, there is one reason that I now and it is quite simple. They never “learned” how to say and show love. Love was never really displayed in the lives of most men. Don’t get me wrong. I know men love their wives and their children. However, they just have a hard time expressing love.
It is sometimes hard for me to comprehend this problem. The reason I have a hard time understanding this is I because don’t have this problem. I don’t say that braggingly like I am all that and bag of chip because I know I am not. I have many failures as a man. However, I am constantly telling my wife and kids that I love them. I have no problem reaching out, taking one of my girls in my arms and giving them a hug or a kiss. I don’t have a problem letting Peyton, my step-son, know that I love him before he goes out or before I go to bed. Those things come natural to me. Why? It was modeled for me growing up. I watched my dad say and show love to my mom, my brother and myself.
Growing up I saw my dad giving my mom a hug and kiss when he got home from work. I heard him tell her that he loves her quite often and not just on special days such as anniversaries, birthdays or on mother’s day. I remember walking down the aisle of the grocery store and my dad leaned over and telling my mom “I love you”. It was moments like that that taught me that I can walk out of store and yell from the top of my lungs: “Holly Ricker, I LOVE YOU!” Yes, I have done that before. My dad taught me how to say I love you to my wife. There would be times that I would come in from playing outside and they would be in the kitchen and my dad would walk by and hug or kiss her. Back then I thought it was gross! I didn’t want to see them hugging and kissing. Looking back on those times today I am glad that I saw that. It is the reason why I love hugging and kissing Holly no matter where we are at during the day. My dad taught me how to show my wife love.
However, it goes beyond just my dad showing and telling my mom that he loved her. He also did the same thing with me and my brother, Aaron. My dad has never been afraid to tell me or my brother that he loved us. He had no problem giving us hugs and more than just a side hug! Men you know what I am talking about! When you reach over with one arm to the side and give your child quick squeeze, especially if it is your son. I got those to, but for the most part, I got real hugs growing up and still get them today. I still hear the word’s “I love you son” come from his mouth. It is this reason I have no problem telling my children that I love them no matter where we are at. Hugs and kisses? Yea no problem. Dancing with my girls in public? Piece of cake! Why? Because saying and showing love was modeled to me by my dad!
For my fellow-men out there who did not have love modeled in your homes growing up, I want to encourage you this morning! While you might not have had love modeled in your life, you can start building a legacy of love by modeling it in your family today. It will probably feel strange and uncomfortable at first. You might feel silly or not as manly, but in all honesty the opposite is true! Your family will see you as the greatest man in their lives! It will take courage and it might take all the strength you have but do it! It will transform your family. Tell you wife and your kids you love them, and tell them often! Hug them, hold them, whatever it takes to show them you love them. If you kids are in their teens, they might seem to just blow it off. However, when they are older, they will remember your words and your actions of love! I promise you they will remember. I know for a fact they will. Why? I remember my dad’s “I love you”’s and his hugs when I was growing up.
So if you were to ask me: “What is the most important thing that I have learned from my dad?” I would have to simply say: “Love! To express my love to my family in words and actions.”
On this Father’s Day, I am forever grateful to my Dad, Harry D. Ricker Jr., for modeling how to love over the past 41 years of my life. Thanks Pop! I love you!