My dad wasn’t a man who “wore his emotions on his sleeve.” He was steady, solid, dependable. That made him a good captain on a fishing boat. He wouldn’t, however, have been a good person to be interviewed on one of those TV shows where they like it if people show emotion and cry.
There was only one time I saw him cry.
In 7th grade English we had been given the assignment of writing an essay about our best friend. I wrote about my dad. I wrote about why he was my best friend and how I respected and admired him and enjoyed spending time with him.
At the breakfast table one morning, before I headed to school to hand in the essay, I showed it to my dad. He read it and then turned his face toward the window. And he cried.
The moment didn’t last long. He handed the paper back to me. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but the words weren’t important. Those couple of tears said it all.
I’ve written a lot of things over the years, but that 7th grade English assignment might have been some of the most important writing I’ve ever done. It could have been easy to assume my dad knew how I felt about him. We often make those kinds of assumptions and hesitate to let somebody know they matter to us. I’ve done plenty of incorrect assuming and have often failed to express my feelings over the years. Unfortunately, later we find they didn’t know what we thought they knew.
Proverbs 27:5 says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” It doesn’t mean it is a good thing to openly rebuke people. Rather it is saying hidden love is a tragic thing and even worse than open rebuke.
Parents assume children know they are thankful they had them and pleased with how they’ve turned out. Employers assume employees know they are valued. We assume friends and family know we appreciate them and their friendship. But they may assume we don’t, if we keep it hidden.
Some people may assume they are loved, but many others assume they are not unless they are told. That is particularly true when it comes to the love of God. We need to be reminded again and again: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (I John 3:1). Our old nature isn’t going to assume God loves us with such a lavish love – but He does. God doesn’t keep it hidden. He expresses it clearly in His Word and most clearly in the cross of Christ. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (I John 3:16). We can know what love is. We can know we are loved, because Jesus has made it known.