Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Some Things Never Change

The world has changed in my lifetime in ways beyond my wildest imagination. I remember the first radio that came into our community. We walked two miles on Saturday to hear the Grand Ole Opry broadcast from Nashville, Tennessee. I first saw a television set in 1953. If you had told me when I was a college student in the early 50's that there would ever be such things as cell phones, fax machines, computers, the Internet, email or men on the moon, I would have thought you were out of your mind.

My daughter and grandchildren gave me a Nintendo - a Nintendo DS, no less! They opined that the use of this little devise would stimulate certain areas of the brain that tend to deteriorate when you get old. Hmmmmm. Four nine-year-old children came by my office and showed me how to turn it on and use it. The world has changed, and I have not been able to keep up.

For all the changes that are taking place in our world and our lives, some things never change. The human need for verbal expressions of love put into action will never change. People need to hear caring words of love spoken to them. Did you say warm words of love when you were dating? Some of you were silver-tongued orators!

It is my observation that in many families the language of love has been lost or forgotten. It has been replaced by a language that is not only foreign to love, but often lacking in common courtesy and civility. Dysfunctional families tend to communicate with the language of silent indifference. Some speak more and more with the language of criticism and fault-finding, using a vocabulary of harsh words and crisp tones. The tone of such unloving communication, even virulent silence, seems to spread like a contagious disease through the whole family. Children quickly learn the unloving language of indifference, silence, criticism and emotional violence. When they grow up and marry, looking for love, they take the language they learned at home with them. They use it to communicate; and their children learn that language. This language tends to spread from generation to generation until something or someone breaks the cycle.

Let me tell you a story.

A man built a great business and made loads of money, but he did it at the expense of this wife and family, as many do. One day his secretary chided him for his neglect of his wife. He did not say anything, but that night on the way home he bought flowers and candy to take home. When he got home, instead of going in the back door as he usually did to see what was for supper, he went to the front door and rang the doorbell, like he used to do when they were courting. When she came to the door, she was a holy mess - hair frazzled, skirt askew and smudges on her face. When she saw her husband standing there with flowers and candy, she burst into tears and cried as if her heart were going to break. He got her to sit on the couch, and when she quieted down enough, he asked, "What in the world is wrong?" She said, "You do not know what I have been through today!" He said, "Well, what?"

She said, "To begin with, Johnnie stepped on a nail at school and I had to take him to get a tetanus shot. Then when the mailman came, the dog bit him and I thought the government was going to sue us. Then I started to wax the kitchen floor and I discovered when I was almost through that I had used the wrong kind of wax and I have been down on my hands and knees all day trying to clean it up. And if this were not enough, now you come home drunk!"

If you were to do something nice for your wife or husband, what would they think? Would they think you were up to something, or that you had been in for your annual physical and discovered that you had a terminal illness? If they would think it strange, then it has been too long - much too long - since you used the language of love in your communication with those you love.

If you love someone, tell them now. Don't wait. Repeat it often.

Some things never change.