I'm a fairly demonstrative person. There is no guessing how I feel about someone and I've been told that I wear my emotions on my face, even when I'm trying to keep them inside! ;-) I tell people regularly that I love them. I hug them. I crave relationship. I feel hurt when I tell someone I love them, but don't get a response in return. I long for deep relationships.
I do understand that many people have a hard time expressing how they feel. They just can't get the words out. Obviously, not everyone is as wordy as I am! And I try to understand that when I'm around people who don't express what they feel, that lack of saying it doesn't mean they don't feel it.
My husband comes from a family who do feel things very deeply, but just don't express it. My family does say, "I love you" regularly but we aren't always good at staying in touch with each other. I've seen my sister, who is also in ministry, twice since we moved here 2 1/2 years ago. This is not a judgment on our families at all. I love them all with all my heart. I wish we could spend more time together. I long for time and conversation with them.
Dan has changed over the years and is much better at expressing his love, probably because he lives with me! lol But he admits that it is still very difficult for him to express the love he feels for others. He is very stoic when it comes to emotions and the few times he tries to get it out, ends up getting teary, which makes him not want to say it at all! lol I've gotten better at not taking it personally (sometimes!) when I don't hear, "I love you" from extended family. I'm learning that a lack of expression doesn't always mean a lack of feeling.
One of the costs of being in full-time ministry is that you don't always get to live by family, and you are limited in the times you do get to visit. The times when most families who live far apart can get together are weekends and holidays. Well, those are always the times when we are working, or the kids are in school. Now that my inlaws and my parents are in their 80s, they cannot travel like they used to do. So we only get to see them a couple times a year. For some reason, our brothers and sisters have hardly ever come to visit us over the years (I literally can count on two hands in our 28 years of marriage) so we've been the ones that have to travel. But that's not always been easy or possible.
I'm feeling nostalgic today. I'm missing those times when the kids were younger and could see their grandparents and cousins a number of times each year. It feels as if they don't know their extended family well at all anymore. Yet, perhaps that is just part of growing up and going off to college and adulthood. Things change. When the cousins do get together, they don't have much to say and it's awkward because they are like strangers.
Yet, family will always be important to us. We may all be going off in different directions, and aren't always good about staying in touch, but we are all part of a single unit. I hope they know how much we love them.