Three little words. Together they add up to less than ten little letters. When I was a child, I never heard my parents utter these words, at least not within my hearing. Maybe they were too personal for my Mom and Dad to say to each other while we were listening. But I would have thought they might have said them to me or my siblings, at least once or twice when we needed to hear them most. I knew there were families where these words were exchanged, but I guess I was never around when they were said. I even heard them used in songs and I remember thinking about saying them myself, but lacked the courage.
As an adult, I tried to say them, but found it difficult. Sure, there were times I felt like saying them, but I again felt too vulnerable or emotional to say them aloud. What if someone decided to use them against me? What if I were mistaken, using them to manipulate to get my way, or trying to evoke a similar response in the person I might say them to? At any rate, I rarely said them.
My children seldom heard these words from me. Again, too vulnerable. Too personal. Too embarrassing. Too much for little ears to hear and really understand. What if someone else overheard them? What if they... what if? I never said them often enough, especially when the kids were young.
As I've grown older, and hopefully more mature, I've realized how much I need to hear those "three little words" from time to time. And I've realized how much I need to speak them out loud to others, particularly those closest to me. They reap the benefits - but, more importantly, so do I. In a family as large as ours, I have a LOT of occasions to say them. Those "three little words", spoken in honesty and humility, let us know where we stand with each other and give grace to our relationship. They have the power to cover a multitude of hurts and slights. And they give the person hearing them permission to say those words to me when the time is right.
Do YOU ever find yourself wanting to say those "three little words?" Do you ever need to hear them from someone else? In this age of uncertainty and harshness, maybe now is the time to start. You can go first, if you like. Say those words, those vital "three little words," and see what response you get. Not ready yet? Okay. I'll say them first:
"I was wrong."
Linda Wood Astala
October 17, 2017