A few Sundays ago, I was asked to speak in a local church and concentrated on Psalm 148. It’s my favorite psalm because it speaks of the love of all of God’s creation for him.

Imagine if mountains and hills, things that creep in the deep, and all the beasts of the field were given a tongue to thank him, praise him and in a sense return the great love he has for his creation. Truly, it was a grand work of love. All of that got me to thinking about other expressions of love.

Showing love is essential in all areas of life. It’s common today for us to express that love openly. A telephone conversation often ends with “Love ya.” A child heading off to school yells at Mom or Dad, “Love ya,” and it echoes back at them from the kitchen.

This is good, I think, but it was not always that way. Parents in the past did not say those words very often. Fathers, especially, were reluctant to use the phrase. Perhaps it was because their parents did not express love in that manner. Maybe it’s the quiet, tight-fisted face they wanted to show the world.

American culture has always approved of the masculine figure who kept his emotions reined in. Shedding a tear was looked upon as weak.

Forget those brave knights of old who wept at religious shrines and at the love poems of their favorite damsel. Hollywood fostered the tough-guy image. Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne let their manly actions speak for them.

Admitting you love someone does put you in a vulnerable position. There is always the chance you won’t be loved in return, and once you’ve taken on the role of John Wayne, it’s hard to change.

Think of the parents who grew up in the Depression and had to fight World War II. After the war, there were jobs and opportunities open to them that were only dreams in the 1930s. It’s no wonder they gave their kids so much stuff, wanting them to have what they couldn’t have.

But fathers certainly showed love in nonverbal ways by working hard, often sacrificing for their children and working long hours at jobs they didn’t particularly like. I’m glad we are showing our love more openly these days. It’s got to be good to say the words, even if it’s only to admit it to ourselves.

There is another phrase I wish we heard spoken more often. The phrase, “I’m proud of you” should be something we say to those who genuinely deserve it.

A teacher or coach uses those worlds to acknowledge and give credit to a player or a team that has shown progress and promise. We should go out of our way to praise those who do well.

A child may instinctively know you love him because, in a way, it’s expected and expressed, but when Mom or Dad says, “I’m proud of you,” a whole new awareness of self is involved.

Husbands and wives should be proud of each other for the big things and the drab, little things that make up their lives. These are words that have power. These are words that can make a change in someone’s life.

The whole of God’s creation has reasons to praise him for their very creation. His creatures cannot, of course, do that, but we can. We can acknow-ledge his wondrous works and the marvelous, miraculous hope he has given us.

He teaches us what love is, and it is up to us to praise him with our creations in words and music and lives that, in a sense, we pray, might make him proud.

Ted Wallace, a former teacher and radio announcer, may be contacted at: [email protected]