Thursday, August 2, 2007

C. THe Consequences of Not Expresing Love

C. The Consequences of Not Expressing Love
1. Puts family members in danger
There is no question that a lack of expressed love in families is associated with various forms of delinquent behavior. One of great concern is those who seek love and get involved in immoral behavior.
Midwestern state YC
A few years ago I had the opportunity to speak to a group of teenagers at a
youth conference in Alabama. After the final classes, I walked outside to wait for my ride
to the airport. I was excited to see two teenage girls that I had become close to waiting for
their parents to arrive. As I was leaving I gave both of them a brief hug, wishing them well.
When I returned home, I received a letter from one of these
young girls. Here is what she related:
"I thought you might want to know how much it meant to Misty and me when you talked to us after youth conference. It really made us feel good that you cared enough about us when you really needed to leave. And whether you knew it or not, we were touched so much when right before you left, you hugged us and then on top of that you said, 'I love you.' That meant a lot to both of us--thank you so very much." I wondered why this simple act had meant so much to this young teenager. It began to make more sense as I continued reading her letter.
"When I got into the car, my father was angry about something. He didn't want to hear about youth conference or anything that had happened. This really upset me. It hurt me so much that I couldn't stop crying." She went on to describe her dad as a good man, but one who had a bad temper and who was very cold, showing little love and affection. She doubted if he even loved her since he never told her. I began to realize why a simple hug and saying "I love you" had meant so much to her.
I fear for her, and all young girls in similar situations who are not told they are loved. There always seems to be some young man who is willing to come along and tell her he loves her for the wrong reasons. Before we are quick to judge this father however, let's ask if our own children know they are loved. Oh sure--we say they know, but I have a strong feeling that the father of the teenager from Alabama loved her. He probably didn’t even realize that his daughter had any doubts about that love. Because of her doubts, she is at an increased risk of inappropriate behavior.
2. Actually Think They Are Not Loved
Mark and Loser
A few years ago my friend Mark, a family therapist, was in a counseling session with a couple and Mary, their teenaged daughter. The father was very non-affectionate with his children and never expressed love verbally to them. The daughter was quite rebellious and involved in immoral behavior that greatly alarmed her parents. Trying to secure help for "her problem," they brought their daughter in for counseling. During the counseling session, the father had several negative things to say about his daughter and her behavior. Finally, Mark asked the teenager what she felt her father was trying to say to her. The young woman looked directly at Mark but did not respond to his question. He then told her to ask her father a question. He said, "Mary, ask your father if he thinks you are a loser." Mary turned to him and said: "So, do you think I’m a loser, Dad?" There was a long pause before he said, "Mary, what I’m really afraid of is that I’m going to lose you." When he said those words, she began to sob. For the first time in years Mary seemed to realize that her father really did love her even though he still did not express it verbally.
Letter To Richard Clarke
J. Richard Clarke shared a letter from a young man who didn’t think he was loved and the consequences of that doubt. He writes:
"I know not why I write this letter. Perhaps I grasp at last straws before it’s over or whatever. I seek help, without hope of receiving it….Let me say here, I love my parents and do what I am able to help them, but my strength is going, and what flicker of spiritual life there is left in me spends itself on writing this letter.
"At a very young age I became convinced that my father didn’t love me. It stemmed from an encounter when one evening I went to kiss him good night and he brushed me away. I’m sure he doesn’t remember, and it had no significance to him, but I was devastated: my entire sense of security and my world crumbled into ashes as I stood there.
"Not knowing what else to do, I ran from this new stranger in a panic to my mother and whispered tones to her of my calamity, which she denied, but did not convince me. That night I watched my father as I stood in the shadows of my darkened bedroom. I swore to myself that I would close the door until he sought to open it. I would ignore him until he sought after me.
"He didn’t notice. If he did, he never asked me what was wrong. Well, needless to say, through the next years I went through the motions and rebelled to get his attention, which I got in the form of anger. At any rate, I …was soon entrenched in my prison. I didn’t know myself….From age seventeen to about twenty-three I began using drugs….Thank you for your time. Can you help me? Is there reason for me to help myself? Can you convince me? Can you spare the time? I’ve not much left." (Ensign, May 1977, p.85.)

3. Often Leads to Regret
My Grandmother Dies
In 1938 my grandmother was pregnant for the eighth time. She had four living children, but had lost twins and two other children in childbirth. My mother was the oldest at age thirteen. When she went into labor, the country doctor came to their home in rural Alabama to assist with the delivery. Complications set in and the doctor told my grandfather to hurry his wife to the hospital in Mobile. That evening he returned home in tears. He broke the news to his children that the baby had died in childbirth, and so had their mother.
It was a terrible shock for my mother who suffered greatly over the deaths of her siblings. Since her father worked long hours every day, it became necessary for her to drop out of school in eighth grade to take care of her younger siblings. One of my mother’s regrets is that she didn’t tell her mother that she loved her that morning. She learned a lesson that we all learn over time. When we fail to express love to those close to us, the time soon comes that we no longer have the opportunity to do so.
Two of My Best Friends
Two of my best friends growing up were my first cousins, Glen and Chris. We lived down the street from each other and many fun experiences together over the years. I loved being around both of them. One thing I regret, however, is that I never told either how much I cared for them during those years. After all, guys don’t do that kind of thing--it is not manly. When I went away to college, Chris stayed home and was soon drafted into the army during the Viet Nam War era. After his training he received orders for a year in Viet Nam. I never got around to telling him how cool I thought he was before he left. A few months later, Chris was killed by an exploding hand grenade.
Later, I was drafted and served two years in the army. After that, Glen and I went to the same college and enjoyed more fun times together. We remained close over the years and would call and visit each other often, even though we lived in different states. One day, I got a call from Glen’s wife, Susan. She told me that Glen, a pilot, had departed from Denver headed for Salt Lake City in their small plane when he encountered bad weather. His plane crashed into the side of a mountain and was he was killed. Glen left behind five children.
I’m sure you know what my next line is. I never got around to telling him how cool I thought he was. Obviously, I still regret not expressing my feelings to these two cousins. It no longer seems "manly" to be closed up about the love we have for others.
Girl in Oklahoma
A few years ago, I was at a youth conference in Oklahoma. A high school girl spoke during one of the meetings and challenged her peers to express love to their families every day. She then shared a tragic personal story to make her point.
She said it was the day of an important school dance and she and here mother were trying frantically to get everything ready. There was a problem with her dress and the situation became tense. Soon a disagreement arose that turned into an argument. Finally, her mother agreed to purchase something that would resolve the problem. There was tension in the air as she left. No love was expressed between the two as she drove off. That was the last time the young girl saw her mother alive. She was killed in a car accident on her way to the store. This was a sad reminder that we never know when we will no longer have a chance to express love.
Perhaps a statement made by Gilbert Keith Chesterton will help. He said, "The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost." (The International Dictionary of Thoughts, p. 452.)

Q. What do you see as the consequences of unexpressed love


Kristi said...

Oh, it makes me so sad to think that kids don't think they are loved or not worthy of love. But I definitely think that's the message that's sent them when they are never told that they are. I think kids will seek it anywhere else they can get it, if it's not coming from home and that makes it all the more important to tell them!

Anonymous said...

Do you think that a consequence of not have love expressed to you from your mother as a girl might mean you look for it with other girls which may appear to be 'lesbain' relationships?

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