When Words Fail

Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.Sometimes words fail us.

I am telling hubby goodbye. Sitting in the car, I roll down the window and look at him standing in the driveway.

He rests his hand on the edge of the window as I squint up at him.

I am leaving for a week. Heading south.

On the kitchen counter lies the itinerary. The calendar. The notes and to-do’s.

He has prayed for safe travels. We have small talked. Nothing to do but say goodbye and drive, yet I linger.

I look up at him and my eyes tear.  Thoughts race across my brain. What if I die while traveling? Would he know how much I love him?

Suddenly I want to tell him how much I love him. How much he means to me. That I don’t regret walking beside him. Having his children. The life we have lived.

That I am sorry for all the times I have gotten mad at him. Not laughed at his jokes. Not smiled back. Doubted him. Not respected him. Argued with him. Held grudges.

We have been through so much together. Vacations. Births. Deaths. Moving. Accidents. Job changes. School. Trials. Sickness. Home projects. Celebrations. Little and much. This and that.

This man I have hiked the continental divide with. Watched die. Sheet rocked and painted with. Gardened with. Hugged and cuddled. Dated. Whale watched and snorkeled with. Traveled with. This man loves me, faults and all, and desires the best for me. He encourages me to be a better person. Challenges me to be more.

This man I eat, sleep, and do life with. How do I tell him I love him? How do I let him know what is running through my heart and mind as I look at him before I leave?

Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.Words are complicated and fail us.


We have one word that means love. And we use it both casually and seriously. I love tea. I love my child. Both are conveying a fondness, but one is a deeper fondness than the other. Yet now as I look at him, words fail me. Fail to convey my thoughts and emotions.

I guess this is why we have poetry. Metaphors. Songs. They try and communicate love into some picture or words we can connect with. Understand. They try and explain the mixed-up emotions and hard to describe feelings we get swamped upon.

And yet on some level they too fail.

Think about the love, the strong emotions you have for your mate, parents, children, friends, pets, country, places, even physical things. Can you really communicate your love for them in words?

Every year my dad would come and spend several weeks with us, and when it came time to leave, I remember having the same feeling. Wanting to tell him how much he meant. Wanting to tell him how much I loved and appreciated him. And yet, I could not. My thoughts just did not translate into words. And so, we hugged extra hard and extra long and then said we love you to each other. He drove away with tears in his eyes and I stood waving with tears in my eyes.

Because words sometimes fail us.

The same is true with God. The bible explains his love for us. Shows his love for us. And even uses words and examples to convey his love for us (like him longing to gather us under his wings as a mother hen gathers her chicks; a shepherd leaving the 99 sheep to go off to search for the one lost sheep; a father running to meet his prodigal son), but in the end the words fall short and fail to really convey the deep, abiding, unconditional, and overflowing love he has for us.

We like to say that God loved us so much he sent his only son to die for us. But even that picture of love fails. How can we even comprehend it. What it really means. How much love that action really communicates. We can understand a little, but not fully.

Because words sometimes fail to express all of what one is meaning to say.

Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.

When words fail to express our feelings and emotions.


We hadn’t been married for that long when one day on a long drive, hubby said, “I love you enough to die for you.”

What does he mean? I wondered.

No one had told me this before. The words were scary. The concept scary. I wanted him alive, not dead. And then the big question back.  Did I love him enough to die for him? I wasn’t sure I would when the pinch was tightened to reality.

“I hope it never comes to that,” I said.

“Do you understand what I am saying?” he asked.


“That if it came down to it I would give up my life, so you could live. I would let you out of the burning house or the sinking ship first. I would sacrifice myself for you.”

I was beginning to feel guilt. I didn’t deserve that. Why couldn’t we both live?

It took years, but I eventually began to understand what he was trying to say. He was trying to tell me how much he loved me. How devoted he was. That in a pinch he would see to me over himself.

Greater love has no man then he lay down his life for another.

His words were failing him and so he used this picture from the bible.

When we have big feelings, emotions, and thoughts, words often fail us.

Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.

Sometimes we need more than words.


We rest in the driveway a few long moments. Just looking at one another.

“You better get going,” he says. “You have a long drive.”

I nod.

This deep desire to tell hubby what he means overwhelms me. And so, I say the only thing that comes to mind. “I love you,” I say, and hope he reads my heart.

“I love you too.”

My eyes tear a little.

And I know he understands.

Because his eyes tear a little too.

In the end, maybe we both know a little of what we are each thinking. Even without words.  Because when you love someone, sometimes you can communicate in other ways.

Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.


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Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.May link up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory);  Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Words can only communicate so much, and then they fail us.

10 Replies to “When Words Fail”

  1. This is an exceptional post. I will not say “May God bless you,” because He clearly already has! I wish the whole world thought and acted like this.

    • Colleen, you are such a treasure! Yes, if we told each other how much we appreciated them, instead of pointing out how much they are failing, this world would be a better place. A safer place.

  2. So true! I am a word person and have trouble conveying these big emotions. We are way too casual with the word love. I think in the day to day we show our feelings better than we could say them!

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