"Do you want to eat an apple?"
"Do you want to go to bed?"
"Do you need to go potty?"
"Do you want to go to the park?"
Any of these, and plenty more, if you ask him he may not even consider the question, he may only answer "no." He may take a nano-moment and still answer "no." If he is in a funny mood, he may smile a bit and then answer "no." That last one is about as close to a "yes" as we get most of the time. But any of the "no"s he gives actually gives no indication of what he wants. It is just a response.
OK, I know he knows the difference between "yes" & "no." "Do you want to watch Bubble Guppies?" is always answered with a "yes." I do not know what kind of enchantment BG has on my son, but it is strong...
But since he just responds, one of our (my) favorite games with him is when I am holding him and I am lying down, I will hold him at arms length above my body and ask, "Does Thomas love Daddy?"
He will shake his head, and grin just a bit and say "no."
"Yes he does," I reply as I lower him down and kiss him once or twice. It is then back up in the air. "Does Daddy love Thomas?"
A bigger smile crosses his face, "no."
"Daddy does love Thomas, and I will show you," as I lower him down and cover him in kisses, and light scratches from my beard til he giggles and smiles. Then back in the air. "Does Thomas love Daddy?"
"No," he says almost giddy and with a smile.
"Yes he does." I lower him again and kiss him a few times on his neck and maybe give him a zerbert. He is laughing now in my arms. I hoist him up one last time. "Does Daddy love Thomas?"
"No," he laughs. His body tensing waiting for the barrage of tickles and kisses that will make my son go into hysterics. It is my Dad given right and responsibility to do just that. So down he comes, and we end up laughing together once it is all done.
If he knew more fully what I was asking, and if he thought before he answered, this little game of ours (mine) would not be possible. I would simply ask "Do you love me?" and Thomas would answer (hopefully) honestly "Yes." And if I asked him "Do I love you?" he would answer the same way. I say hopefully since I hope my love for him is apparent, that he knows without question. But the way that happens is I have to show him. Day in and day out, I have to make a vague concept like love concrete for my son. I have to not only give it lip service but show him again and again. If I stop, then it becomes possible for him to wonder if my love has ceased or if my love was never strong to begin with. And if I only show him one way, then it might be seen as love of the game, or love of reading or love of something and not love of him. So the ways I show love have to grow and change so they keep up with him, and hopefully keep ahead of him... loving him in ways he does not know he needs yet.
As people of faith, do we love our neighbors? Most of us would say "yes." We would Love for them to come to worship. We would Love for them to find us welcoming. We would Love for them to join our church. We would Love for them to do the work and find us compatible. We would Love for them to find our ad/sign/website and think that looks like a great
Love is going out of our way to show people that we care. Love is meeting them when they do not have the vocabulary to say "yes I know you love me," and showering them with hugs and kisses. Love is seeing the need they have and the need they do not see, and finding ways to help them thru both. Love is being a father to someone you just met, and crying for the father they never knew. Love is much harder than we want it to be.